Europe’s teenagers build bridges between science and the arts


Science inspires art. And art, or creativity, inspires the scientist. Although the arts and sciences are often depicted as separate disciplines, incompatible and conflicting with each other, they are similar in many ways. They both require careful observation, discipline, intuition, inspiration and passion. “Scientists and artists perpetually live on the edge of mystery, being always surrounded by it”, said J. Robert Oppenheimer.

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So where is the common ground between art and science? That was the question that launched, in 2011, the European competition “Immersion into the Science Worlds through Arts” (ISWA) open to young artists aged between 15 and 20. Now, the five prize-winning projects have been assembled in an art exhibition, Pixel Palette, co-produced by the ESRF and staged at the CCSTI science centre in Grenoble. Led by Franco Rusticheli from the University of Ancona, the competition received funding from the European Commission FP7 Programme.

The ISWA competition confronted the young artists with the world of science, encouraging them to translate their observations into artistic expressions. A winner was chosen from each of the five disciplines represented: cinema, imaging, contemporary art, modern dance and literature.
Big Bang inspired

Three of the five winning projects were inspired by cosmology and the origins of the solar system. Of the two others, one covered the emergence of nanotechnologies through a choreographic representation for around 30 dancers, while the subject of memory and storage was translated into an interactive bed that captures emotions, entitled “World Hostel”.

world hostel

The project "World Hostel" won first prize in the contemporary art category. The work concentrated on capturing emotions in an environment integrating different types of sensory collectors.

The award ceremony and inauguration of the exhibition was held on 21st February in the presence of the producers of four of the five winning projects. The exhibition was designed by Marika Cirigliano and Ludovic Maggioni.

List of ISWA prize winners

  • Modern Dance: There is Plenty More Room at the Bottom - Students of Taneční a pohybové studio Magdaléna o.s., professionally tutored by Ludmila Rellichová, Czech Republic
  • Cinema: Black Holes - Robert Crona, Felix Wallin and Johannes Ålander, Sweden
  • Contemporary Art: World Hostel - 83 students from the Vocational High School for Arts and Design in Linz and the Technical Vocational High School in Leonding,  represented at the award ceremony by Katrin Gusenbaue, Austria
  • Imaging: Back to the Origin - Fiorio Greta, Limni Silvana, Lutterotti Martina, Moschetta Rachele, Italy
  • Literature: My Universe - Agnė Semėnaitė, Lithuania

“My Universe” by Agnė Semėnaitė. Prize-winner in the category “literature”

Agnė Semėnaitė, aged 17, from Vilnius in Lithuania, was awarded first prize for her short story that describes, through an exchange of letters, a relationship between two scientists. She draws on the similarities the scientists see in the phenomena of the universe and their own lives, thus bringing the law of physics into their daily routines. The story hints that both scientists are competing for some great discovery which could have a big impact on their lives.

IWSA literature

Agnė Semėnaitė presents the reasoning behind her short story at the inauguration of the exhibition

Of her work, Agné says  “The artwork is about the science of our everyday reality, the science of feelings. 'My Universe' attempts to deny the accuracy of science and show that there are endless possibilities of the truth and it is rarely possible to know something for sure.”

Read Agné‘s story (PDF file): In English; in French.

Visit the exhibition

The exhibition Pixel Palette is open until 21 April 2013. Free admission.
Place Saint Laurent
Mon-Fri: 09.00-12.00 and 13.30-17.30
Sat & Sun: 14.00-18.00

All images courtesy of CCSTI, Grenoble, IIan Ginzburg,

Text by Kirstin Colvin


Top image: “Back to the Origin” won first prize in the category imaging.The work reflected on the origins of the universe expressed through a photographic study of light.