LOWER EAST SIDE — In this Lower East Side exhibition, science really is an art.
The Large Hadron Collider, an attempt to simulate the cosmos-creating Big Bang in a 17-mile-long tunnel under the French-Swiss border, is at the center of the "Super Colliders" exhibition now showing at the DCKT Contemporary gallery at 21 Orchard St.
Artist Timothy Tompkins, 46, uses the shapes, symmetries and sunset hues of the massive underground science experiment to combine his love for art, science and philosophy.
"It just seems whether it was intentional or not, [the Large Hadron Collider] is very sculptural," said the Los Angeles-based Tompkins, who has been represented by DCKT Contemporary in New York for about a decade.
Much of the series focuses on the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS), a massive magnet within the Large Hadron Collider that pulls particles off their track in a bid to detect extra dimensions and dark matter.
Tompkins, who has never visited the Large Hadron Collider but created his paintings from photos, channeled its work into abstract images using glossy enamel paint on aluminum.
"You see this symmetry of form and shape — that was attractive and the fascination," said Tompkins, whose previous works looked at the birth of stars in the series titled "Nebula."
The CMS's symmetry — along with the equipment's palette of mostly reds, blues and some green — is reminiscent of rose windows found in the cathedrals of Europe, according to Tompkins.
Just as the beauty of rose windows may inspire curiosity about the heavens, the Large Hadron Collider also inspires curiosity about the universe's beginnings, Tompkins said.
"For me it was an interesting connection between Gothic cathedrals and the construction of the collider," he said.
"Super Colliders" opened Jan. 31 and will run until March 9 at 21 Orchard St. gallery.