Operatic dance performance filmed inside CERN

"Symmetry" tells the story of a CERN researcher who rediscovers love through the song and dance of the infinite cosmos.

Michelle Starr Science editor
Michelle Starr is CNET's science editor, and she hopes to get you as enthralled with the wonders of the universe as she is. When she's not daydreaming about flying through space, she's daydreaming about bats.
Michelle Starr
2 min read

Screenshot by Michelle Starr/CNET

CERN's Large Hadron Collider is a site of wonders. It's world's largest particle accelerator -- in fact the largest machine on Earth -- where researchers are seeking answers to some of the deepest mysteries of time and space, on some of the tiniest particular scales imaginable.

And now, it's also the setting for uncovering the mysteries of the human heart -- through an ambitious multimedia film project.

"Symmetry," its website says, is an operatic sci-fi dance performance based on the work being performed at CERN.

It follows Lukas -- played by the film's choreographer Lukas Timulak -- a CERN physicist, hard at work using the LHC to search for the smallest particle in existence , when a ghostly woman played by soprano Claron McFadden appears, asking him if he loves the particle more than he loves himself, and, if he could, would he become one with the particle.

As Lukas increasingly tries to focus on his work, Claron's message becomes more insistent, as she carries him through time in search of answers -- tearing him away from the timelessness of physics and pointing him towards the timelessness of love and music.

Screenshot by Michelle Starr/CNET

As he travels through time and inside himself, the claustrophobic, machine setting of the Large Hadron Collider gives way to the bare, open, natural setting of Bolivia's Salar de Uyuni, the world's largest salt flat. The film becomes a study of complementary contrasts: art, science, dance, particle physics, computations, nature, the nanoscale and the universal.

"I didn't want to make a documentary to explain or understand modern physics in general, but rather interpret the complex material this institution is presenting," director Ruben van Leer told The Creators Project.

"And this is also what for me an opera film could do; give space for the audience to make up their own story, with their own imagination and make a journey like Lukas within themselves: a tiny, personal, world changing quantum-story."

"Symmetry" will premiere in the Amsterdam EYE film museum on March 14, 2015 as part of the Cinedans film festival, and will also be shown at the NewScientist CERN festival in Pakhuis de Zwijger Amsterdam at 7pm on March 18.