Interactions between scientists and artists have existed for a long time. But the field of the physics of the Universe has witnessed these last years a series of major discoveries that question in a fundamental manner how way to comprehend the Universe. Thus, the fluctuations that are observed in the cosmological background, that is the first light emitted 380 000 years after the Big Bang, provide us with precise information about the state of the Universe at that time, 14 billion years ago!
The discovery of gravitational waves, announced on the 11th February 2016, made us reach a new stage. Gravity is the force that governs the Universe in its largest dimensions. Gravitational waves, which are deformations of spacetime, provide us with brand new information on the Universe and on the dynamics of space and time. The event that gave birth to these waves is a fusion of two black holes: black holes, gravitational objects by essence, are the object of fascination, and fantasy, not just for the general public, but also for scientists and artists.
It is thus a new paradigm that is setting up, a sort of Universe 2.0 that replaces the Universe 1.0 that we have observed for millenia with our own eyes, and more recently with instruments, from that day in 1609 when Galileo directed his telescope towards the moons of Jupiter.
This new paradigm will evolve as we progress in the exploration of the gravitational Universe. Scientists can explain it, they can involve a large public in this exploration, in its moments of discovery as well as its moments of disappointment, in the identification of new concepts, etc.
But, referring to other periods of important discoveries, such as the Renaissance, it appears to us that art and artists can make their own contribution to this exploration. Artists have other ways to capture the physical reality, and, at this moment where a new exploration starts, it seems important to us to have this crossbreeding, that can be beneficial both for artists and scientists.
This is all the more important that fundamental questions are at play: the deep nature of space and time, and their intimate connection in what we refer to as spacetime; the notion of origin, of spatial or temporal limit, the concept of horizon; the role of information (physicists call it entropy), its flow within the Universe, its conservation or its loss; our own place in the Universe, our role as observers, does observation perturb our environment? Such questions concern us all, scientists or artists.
Let us stress that this is not a one-way relationship, with scientists explaining and artists illustrating. All the contrary, it is a crossbreeding, each of us contributing with their own tools, their own metaphors, their own history. In a field which we have just started to explore, the scientists of the team expect as much from the artists as the artists from the scientists.