Dutch installation artist Niklas Roy has made what is perhaps the wackiest interpretation of the CERN particle collider. Last week, a box popped up at Tschumi Pavilion in Groningen, The Netherlands, filled to the brim with pneumatic vacuum tubes, flashy signs, and 1000 spongey black balls. The balls inside the box—which Roy named the Pneumatic Sponge Ball Accelerator—zoom back and forth at about 5 m/s, simulating the path of a particle in the LHC—a perspective Roy explores the above video.
The tubes are activated by a front-facing hand sensor and controls which let people change the direction tubes go. When passerby activate it, the balls go flying... along with a camera Roy shoved in there. In fact, the camera's stabilization algorithm can't keep up with the spin, causing the world inside the machine to warp into an overwhelming psychedelic tunnel.
The Sponge Ball Accelerator differs from Roy's previous ball-vacuuming experiment, in that it's a direct effort to unveil the scientific progress happening at CERN. It's a thoroughly entertaining effort to give physicality to the conceptual enigma that many scientific machines have become. "While their names are already quite incomprehensible, it’s even a greater mystery what happens inside them," says Roy on many technological systems. "There’s basically nothing to see."
Roy's installation makes a daunting, conceptual process visual and digestible—while also flipping it on its head (pretty much literally, from the POV of the camera). There's no word on if the camera survived its journey, but at the end of the day we can rest easy: it sacrificed itself for science.
Get sucked into more of Roy's work by zooming over to his website here.