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Of Interest

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ITER and art "resonate" in nearby village

When driving by the village of La Roque d'Anthéron, about 35 kilometres from the ITER site, one now passes an imposing structure that beckons the eye skyward. It is the recently inaugurated Résonances monument, created by French sculptor Jean-Paul Philippe.

Funded by private contributors ''Résonances,'' by artist Jean-Paul Philippe, draws a link between art and science, connects sister cities, and builds a bridge between the past and the future. The sculpture was inaugurated in the French village of La Roque d'Anthéron on 5 October 2022. (Click to view larger version...)
Funded by private contributors ''Résonances,'' by artist Jean-Paul Philippe, draws a link between art and science, connects sister cities, and builds a bridge between the past and the future. The sculpture was inaugurated in the French village of La Roque d'Anthéron on 5 October 2022.
The name of the monument, Résonances, was not chosen lightly. It came about during an animated discussion between the artist and former ITER Director-General Bernard Bigot, who was passionate about creating an important testimony to art and science. It was Dr Bigot who suggested the name as it rang true on several levels, beginning with the diverse artistic inspirations for the sculpture—French philosopher Albert Camus, who settled locally in Lourmarin in the late 1950s, and the architecture of the nearby Abbaye de Silvacane. The term résonances also has meaning in the realm of science. In physics, resonance is a phenomenon in which an external force or a vibrating system forces another system to vibrate with greater amplitude at a specified frequency, such as when the bow of a violin rubs against a string causing it to resonate and produce a powerful sound. It can also refer to the resonance that takes place in the deepest part of matter, in the atoms themselves, which leads to their fusion—the source of the prodigious energy in the universe, and in the stars that ITER is replicating on Earth.

The idea for Résonances came from Jean-Paul Philippe, whose emblematic sculpture Site Transitoire is located in La Roque d'Anthéron's twin city in Asciano, Italy. This connection led to the idea of creating a monument that would echo both the Italian Site Transitoire and the special relationship between La Roque d'Anthéron and the ITER Project.

The location for the sculpture in the Parc des Adrechs was carefully chosen, as it overlooks the route travelled by ITER convoys and the Durance Canal—both of which lead to ITER's door. The monument has gilded curves that reflect the sunlight towards the Abbaye de Silvacane and ITER, creating a resonance between historical architecture and the innovation of the future.

The main column of the monument, rising nine metres in height, consists of seven blocks of travertine stone from a quarry in Asciano. Each block represents an ITER Member, while other stones have engravings that reference deuterium-tritium fusion products and Einstein's formula for mass/energy conversion E=mc². A smaller version of the monument is located on the ITER site, offered by the artist as a gesture of support and gratitude towards everyone at ITER who is working on proving that fusion is a viable source of energy for the future. He sees both the sculpture and the ITER Project as beacons of life and hope.

The monument was managed by the Résonances Endowment Fund and financially supported by donations from both individuals and companies alike. The Endowment Fund handed over the responsibility and care of the beautiful monument to the commune of La Roque d'Anthéron during an inauguration ceremony on 5 October, 2022. The ceremony was not only a celebration of the monument's completion, but also a moment of recognition for the important role that Dr Bigot played in its creation. His dedication to art, nature and science for the benefit of humankind has already left an indelible mark along the banks of the Durance canal in the form of a monument that will offer reflection and "resonance" for generations to come.

"I am convinced that art and science share the same ambition, to reveal worlds and broaden the horizons of each one. Art speaks to what is most intimate to us and invites us to grasp the world in a way that is always evolving..." Bernard Bigot, Director-General of the ITER Organization (2015-2022) and former President of the Résonances Endowment Fund

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