In the Beginning

Vivian Appler


In 1965, Vera Rubin discovered Dark Matter through the art of astronomical observation, an endeavor that has endured since human beings first looked up at the stars.  In 1610, Galileo Galilei discovered the telescope, an instrument that radically altered our terrestrial view of the universe and our very human understanding of our very small role in it.  As Richard Panek states in the introduction to his recent book, The 4% Universe, with recent experiments and discoveries in particle physics (the most recent being CERN's recent announcement of the discovery of the Higgs Boson), "It's 1610 all over again."  As current technologies in theoretical (turned practical) physics allow scientists to experiment with tinier and tinier particles, the picture of the universe becomes more and more strange.  Just as Copernicus's crystalline spheres of the heavens were smashed by the information made available through Galileo's telescope, so might our vision of a three-dimensional universe be radically altered as scientists are forced to consider the implications of quantum mechanics as they become realities in our scientific thought processes:  11-dimensional space, a multiverse, a cyclical time (and more) may be more than plot elements on your favorite science fiction television programs.


My present project revolves not necessarily around the universe-shattering discoveries made at CERN, Fermilab, ALMA, and other high-tech physics and astronomy research facilities. Rather, I return to the art of observation.  A performance artist and puppeteer, not an astronomer, I rely on those scientific observations to inform and fine-tune my own observational instruments as I delve into the territory of astronomy, particle physics, myth, and myself.  What do dark matter and dark energy mean in my own life?  If these unknowables comprise 96% of the universe, does they also make up 96% of me?  If that is the case, what parts of me are dark and what parts of me are bright?  What is this force and what do I do with it?  What is it doing to me? 


This blog is an online journal of my creation process.  To date, I have already begun this journey of performance and/of physics.  I begin again in Switzerland, not at the world-famous CERN, but at a clown workshop in Verscio, Switzerland, taught by master teacher Pierre Byland. Before coming to the workshop, I have some ideas, questions, characters, and a lot of writing. It is my hope that the clown will become 21st century machine through which I might train my own art of observati.


Originally posted from Switzerland on August 17, 2012 on Vivian's Blog After Andromeda.