Liz Lerman: So I made a piece with a geneticist called Ferocious Beauty: Genome, which I really love, and that piece had a big, long touring life. It stayed up-- we just finished the last performance of it in January at JMU.
So it toured for over five years-- not consistently, but it was out on the road. And one place we went, I approached by Gordy Kane, a wonderful physicist at the University of Michigan. He said to me, "Hey Liz, we want one." Meaning, I think, would we spend some time in the physics world. And actually, I told him, "No, not really." I was at that time feeling finished. But we had a meeting, and it was such an interesting meeting, and he gathered some of the physicists from his department, and we just met, and I just loved talking to them. And one of the things that he posed is that the work that they're doing at CERN, which is the place in Switzerland and France, where they're smashing the particles-- this is my paraphrasing; I'm not doing justice to it-- but trying to recreate the conditions of the Big Bang so that they can really understand that. And he really believes that they're going to figure all this out, in his lifetime. And I just, brightly, just said something like, "So, what about the other origin stories? What's going to happen if this really is the truth?" And nobody laughed. They said, "That's interesting." And in fact, that was what set up my next sort of investigation. Because I do think one thing is that science is changing our perception of ourselves rapidly, and that we don't have a lot of places to work that out, whether it's biology or physics or any of them. You might read a headline in the paper and you might just, "I don't want to read that," and keep going. I don't know where we get to work these feelings out. And so I like to think that artists, by working with these subject matters, give the public a chance to kind of investigate, over a 30-, 40-, 50-minutes period, "How do I feel about this? What do I think about this?" And that's certainly what The Matter of Origins does. So the first, Act I, you're in the theater and it's a big multimedia piece. The video is beautiful, and it's just looking at these questions about how astrophysicists and particle physicists are thinking about the beginnings of things.
Music excerpt from The Matter of Origins:
“Without the dark matter you couldn’t have the galaxies or the stars or the planets or the dinosaurs that evolve on planets.
I know this is a hard kind of a question, but do you have an image of the dark matter, a picture image, or just a math image? No pictures. No pictures. It’s dark….”
In this excerpt from the podcast, Lerman discusses how her dance based on genetic science, Ferocious Beauty: Genome led to the creation of her project, The Matter of Origins, which probes the physics of beginnings and the poetry of the mind.? [2:34]