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Of Interest

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Art and ITER

Two sisters, two suns and a monument to fusion

Amid the gentle slopes of Asciano, Italy, there stands a stone window that frames the Sun on the summer solstice. It looks as though it might have always been there, a striking but minimalist shrine to the Sun in the Italian countryside. But the sculpture, Site Transitoire, was created in 1993 by artist Jean-Paul Philippe. And because of Asciano's close connection to its sister city of La Roque d'Anthéron—situated only 30 minutes from the ITER site—Philippe proposed a sister sculpture, Résonances, that would frame a secondary Sun: the ITER Tokamak.

The tall pillar will be built from seven blocks of Tuscan stone, each one representing an ITER Member; at the top, the gold-foil tip will reflect the light of the Sun. ''Résonances'' by artist Jean-Paul Philippe, seeks to evoke the ambition of the ITER research program and the remarkable engagement of ITER's seven Members. (Click to view larger version...)
The tall pillar will be built from seven blocks of Tuscan stone, each one representing an ITER Member; at the top, the gold-foil tip will reflect the light of the Sun. ''Résonances'' by artist Jean-Paul Philippe, seeks to evoke the ambition of the ITER research program and the remarkable engagement of ITER's seven Members.
Now, Résonances is in the early stages of creation. Philippe is currently choosing the stone he will use for the project, and the current goal is to have the sculpture installed in Le Parc Des Adrechs around summer 2022.

As Site Transitoire paid homage to the Sun and the intersection of nature and art, so will its sister. The sculpture's careful angles and notches capture the Sun at certain times of the day and year, and its gold-foil tip will reflect the Sun's light from the park at one end of the city to the Cistercian abbey, Silvacane, at the other end.

But along with the connection between two monuments and two cities, Résonances will draw together two suns: the titan that burns millions of kilometres away and its little sister nestled in the womb of the ITER Project. Though the sculpture will be located about 45 km away from ITER site in Saint-Paul-lèz-Durance, Philippe's design brings ITER and La Roque d'Anthéron together.

The monument will be located about 45 km away from ITER in La Roque d'Anthéron. A smaller replica of the sculpture will greet visitors at the entrance to the ITER site. (Click to view larger version...)
The monument will be located about 45 km away from ITER in La Roque d'Anthéron. A smaller replica of the sculpture will greet visitors at the entrance to the ITER site.
The monument itself is built from seven pieces of stone to represent the seven Members of the ITER Organization, and it will face the ITER site from its place in Le Parc Des Adrechs. The park is perched on the edge of the Durance Canal and the road that ITER uses to bring components on site, so Résonances may oversee the progress of the machine as it grows nearer to completion.

Although the project was not commissioned by the ITER program*, the monument will be a fitting tribute to all those who have dedicated great time and effort to make the ITER Project possible. A smaller replica of the sculpture (see the simulated photo at right) will even greet visitors as they enter the ITER site.

As Résonances is funded by private financial contributions, it is possible for anyone interested in ITER or in the aesthetic and symbolic value of the sculpture to make a donation towards the creation of the monument. Fundraising is underway now through the Résonances project website. The artist has proposed a way to incorporate donors by name within the monument to acknowledge their contribution.

And years, even decades from now, when the tokamak burns like a microcosmic star and ITER's mission is in the past, Résonances will remain as a physical reminder of the history behind ITER, of La Roque d'Anthéron and her sister city, and of Jean-Paul Philippe's artistic vision.

*Some staff of the ITER Organization play a volunteer supporting role in the realization of "Résonances."



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