CERN opening ceremony – Directed by Volker Hesse

BBC: “We’re not sure what this is all about either.”

This was one of the first time the masses got exposed to performance art. This opening ceremony has been accused of being “satanic” or “occultist”. However, those allegations stem from their fear of the absurd and abstract. Since this was broadcast to a large audience, many of which have not been exposed to art of this kind. It was easy for them to criticise and be fearful of both the art and the technology this opening ceremony represents. Also, the piece references local folklore about a beast called the “Ibex”. Folklore that religion has tried to stamp out. So when characters, like the Ibex, are referenced they will quickly be accused of being satanic as it goes against religious dogma.

I recall after the opening there was a lot of fear surrounding the power of the Hadron collider and what it could achieve. Most of this fear, as seen many times before, stemmed from a lack of understanding and knowledge. The physics behind this technology is complex, but can easily be explained if you are willing to learn. This understanding helps dull the fear of what, in reality, the Hadron collider could produce.

In addition, there was unease surrounding the significance of this opening ceremony. There were many world leaders and influential people present. This might have scared people, as it suggests there is something that they know and the rest of the world doesn’t understand. Like they know a secret but no one else apart from them can know. This caused further speculation about secret satanic societies and the opening of portals to different dimensions for evil purposes.

A fear of the future

The audio for this was a minimalist, industrial sound piece. The sound piece references the digging of the tunnel, the local environment and folklore. However, sound art like this is usually associated with horror and art house films. Further explaining people’s association with this piece being satanic.

All of this fear is reminiscent of when the first railways were introduced (which iconically is referenced in this performance piece.) How people were terrified of the progress of technology and nervous of its power. Nevertheless, people use trains every day to commute these days and no longer have a hysteric fear of the technology that transports them.

With the rise of future technology this adaptation will continue. Of course, the public will be apprehensive to begin with, but in time they adjust and accept it. With the rise of augmented reality, quantum computers, nano-robots and virtual worlds, the future will be very interesting. This is what Homo Deus is about and what I would like to explore in my new project. 

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