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ESRF instrumentation becomes work of art at the Lyon Biennial


Destiny has taken an unexpected turn for one of the ESRF's veteran X-ray cameras. After more than ten years of loyal service on the ID19 imaging beamline, it was earmarked for retirement in the archives. Now the camera is back in the limelight at the Hôtel de Région Rhone-Alpes, where it is being exhibited as part of the prestigious Lyon Biennial of Contemporary Art.

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The X-ray camera is a  centre piece of the exhibition by French artist, Laurent Mulot, entitled "les Fantômes de la Liberté - territoires et expérimentations" (Ghosts of freedom - territories and experimentations). It will be on display  at the Hôtel de Région Rhone-Alpes, from 13 September 2013 to 5 January 2014.

Since  2012  Laurent Mulot has been a resident artist in Grenoble where he spent six months bringing together ESRF staff with inhabitants of the immediate neighbourhood of the synchrotron. He recorded the reactions of these encounters on film, tape and camera. The exhibition will include elements of these moments, along with similar happenings recorded at CERN and at neutrino particle physics experiments around the globe.


Entrance to the exhibition inside the Hôtel de Région in Lyon. Credit: ESRF/Blascha Faust

At the initiative of the Région Rhône Alpes, a retrospective of Laurent Mulot’s work is being exhibited during the 12th Lyon Contemporary Art Biennial. The ESRF was asked to provide on loan an exhibit with a link to his work and ideas. The X-ray camera was chosen: it takes pictures of the inside of objects and creates momentary snapshots that become a new reality when reconstructed into 3-D images, very much like Laurent Mulot creates works of art from spurious encounters with science and society.


Le Plateau - Espace d'exposition. 1 esplanade François Mitterrand, 69002 Lyon (in front of the Confluence shopping centre).

Exhibition open Tuesday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Free admission.

Additional information

Watch a video (in French) of Laurent Mulot presenting the exhibition

The exhibition curator, Abdelkader Damani, is also administrator of the exhibition called Thinkrotron, scheduled to open at the Grenoble Natural History Museum on 4th October, and including works by Mulot. Find out more about this event (in French).


Text by Kirstin Colvin

Top image: The X-ray camera chosen for the exhibition comes from the ESRF's ID19 beamline and was used for around 10 years in many high impact palaeotological experiments. Credit: ESRF/Blascha Faust