FIELD's Energy Flow: The Microscopic Splendor Of Particle Physics In "LHC"

<p>The sixth installment in FIELD&#8217;s non-linear film project looks at the subatomic world.</p>

10 January 2013, 8:18pm

The intricate and unpredictable world of particle physics is the subject for the sixth story in Energy Flow, a non-linear film project from FIELD. Beneath the surface of the matter that surrounds us lies a world of subatomic ferocity and seemingly boundless energy, a place of quantum fields and particle reactions.

It’s a world full of mystery and wonder that continues to hold mankind’s fascination. It’s a place that’s full of surprises too, which, although technical and at times mind-boggling to comprehend, still captivate the public’s imagination—as can be seen from the reaction to the Higgs boson discovery last year. But for every discovery made and theory confirmed, a whole new set of questions arise as, paradoxically, both our understanding and ignorance of the universe seems to grow.

In this part of Energy Flow, called LHC, FIELD collaborated with Russian artist Maxim Meshkov (aka DXMIQ), who designed and art directed the visuals. The viewer is taken on a trip that begins with the behemoth atom-smashing scientific instruments that help us understand these subatomic lands. Then journeys down into the fundamental places that photons and quarks call home, in a series of astonishing and spectacular encounters between microscopic forms.

Meshkov’s take on the atom-smashing scientific instruments (above) and particle collision (below).

Using 3D animation, Meshkov created a series of imaginary and elaborate collisions, where the particle structures behave in fanciful and byzantine ways and where “fractal tree structures, nodal networks, or chaotic trajectories are some of the principles applied to grow these captivating structures out of a single point of barely visible size.”

We spoke with director Meshkov to find out how he went about creating this fascinating world.

The Creators Project: Can you tell us about your involvement with FIELD’s Energy Flow project?
Maxim Meshkov:
I made a short piece for the project inspired by scientific research and particle physics. My piece consists of two parts, firstly the depiction of different high-tech structures which was inspired by images of LHC and National Ignition Facility and other scientific labs like that. I wanted to show what an enormous effort humanity is making to achieve advances in our understanding of the world around us, and what complex structures we need to build for that. And also how scientists from all around the world are working on these collaborative projects and uniting to solve these problems.

The second part is more abstract, it was inspired by visualizations of scientific experiments and particle collisions—I wanted to show the beauty of science and how art and science can be mixed together.

Inside the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.

What ideas are you exploring in the film and how do they tie in with the overall theme of Energy Flow?
Ideas like how one event in the universe could influence another, how everything in our universe is interconnected. For instance, a small, tiny difference at the beginning of the Big Bang could’ve lead to the development of the universe where life is not possible at all. But we are now living in a world where the laws of nature allow the appearance of the building blocks of life and can sustain an environment required for the beginning of life—and all this was just chance. It’s fascinating that some random mutation millions of years ago becomes the cause for the development of the human brain and all the stuff we achieved using it, and the connection between the two events is very distant in space and time.

But there are a lot of important things happening in the world right now which we don't know how they’ll influence us in the future. What will become of modern social upheavals? Of revolutions? Or how will current scientific breakthroughs define our future? How could they drastically change our world in, say, seven years? What technologies might emerge from that breakthrough? We just don't know. A century ago there were discoveries in physics and they’ve influenced humanity, not only in science and technology but also society and philosophy and religion. Cold War military technology evolved into the internet, which affects hundreds of millions of people every day. So for me, that's the “energy flow.”

Scientific drawings showing the collision of particles inside the LHC.

How did you come to work with FIELD?
I was familiar with their works for a long time, and we’ve been following each other for several years on various social networks. And then last spring they contacted me and invited me to make a story for their project. There were several themes they suggested and I chose the one about LHC, which was close to my heart because I'm really interested in science, especially physics.

That's how we started our collaboration and working with them was a really great experience. The whole process was smooth and clear. We started by discussing the ideas and I described to them my vision for the project and how my segment can interact with the other parts. And we pretty quickly came to the conclusion that our views on the subject were pretty similar. And then we started the process of actual making. We started sending each other some references and inspirational pictures and stuff, then started to find a visual style.

Stills from the film showing particle collisions.

Where did you get the inspiration for the visuals you created?
There is a lot of scientific stuff you can find on the internet about LHC and the National Ignition Facility—both are very interesting projects and they served as a great source of inspiration to me. And there are a lot of beautiful-looking scientific data and scientific evaluations which we used for reference. The inspiration came from different fields of science: some is biological data, some physics, some network maps—everything. We believe there are similarities in all this material—that's what was inspiring us.

Visit for more information on the project and more behind-the-scenes imagery. Check back on The Creators Project every week for an in-depth look at a different storyline or feature of the film.

Meet FIELD in the video below…