Art meets science

In the anniversary year of its namesake, the Helmholtz Association is seeking to build bridges between science and art. A joint fellowship scheme with Dortmund’s Academy for Theater and Digitality is supporting two projects that bring data science to life through art. The MDC is also involved.

A joint exchange program between the Helmholtz Information & Data Science Academy (HIDA) and the Academy for Theater and Digitality aims to promote formats that make the field of data science artistically accessible to the public. It also seeks to ensure that cutting-edge research into artificial intelligence serves as a source of ideas and inspiration for the next generation of theater and cultural professionals. The fellowships are open to artists, technicians, and scientists interested in working at the interface between digital art and cutting-edge digital research. Two projects were selected for funding in the first call for proposals. The fellowships enable artists and scientists to collaborate for a period of five months (between September 2021 and June 2022), with two months spent working at the Academy in Dortmund and three months at one of the Helmholtz Centers.

These two projects won the first fellowships:

Martin Hennecke: The (Un)Answered Question – A Data Science-Powered Experimental Musical Arrangement

The research project “The (Un)Answered Question,” which is also eligible to submit a revised application, aims to develop a prototype performance piece based on the musical work “The Unanswered Question” by the late U.S. composer Charles Ives. The piece will feature video projections and a live orchestra remix that incorporate the bio data of the audience and performers, which will be captured via human-machine interfaces. It seeks to create an immersive live experience using tools and techniques from the field of data science. Artificial intelligence will be employed to link up the projections and compositions with the audience’s and performers’ data, thus turning each performance into a unique event.

Two research groups from different Helmholtz Centers are collaborating on this project: Thoralf Niendorf’s group at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) and Andres Schreiber’s group at the German Aerospace Center (DLR). The piece will then be staged through a cooperation with the Saarland State Theater.

Bnaya Halperin-Kaddari and Kerstin Ergenzinger: Common Ground – Sounding Out Arctic Warming

The issue of climate change is so vast and complex that its urgency is often hard to grasp. The Arctic is currently warming at an unprecedented rate, and terrestrial Arctic landscapes are changing rapidly as a result. In the “Common Ground” project, data collected in Arctic research will be made audible using sonification techniques and brought to life in a performative installation. The sonified data can be heard through specially designed sound boxes and instruments in a walk-in installation and manipulated through interference with visitors to the installation who are immersed in the sound space.

The project will be realized in collaboration with Julia Boike of the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI). 


Further information


Xenia von Polier
Press Officer
Helmholtz Information & Data Science Academy (HIDA)
Strategic Initiatives

+49 30 5498226-25

Helmholtz Association


The Helmholtz Association contributes to solving major challenges facing society, science, and the economy through top-level scientific achievements in six research areas: Energy; Earth and Environment; Health; Key Technologies; Matter; and Aeronautics, Space and Transport. With more than 41,000 employees at 18 research centers and an annual budget of around €5 billion, the Helmholtz Association is the largest scientific organization in Germany. One of the key challenges facing science and research is utilizing methods from the field of information and data sciences; that is, exploiting digitalization to acquire knowledge that will benefit society. The Helmholtz Association is tackling these challenges in various ways and has also founded the Helmholtz Information & Data Science Academy (HIDA) to this end. HIDA’s goal is to train the digital researchers of the future and establish innovative networks and fellowship programs across Germany and internationally.

Academy for Theater and Digitality


The Academy for Theater and Digitality (ATD) is a pilot project at Theater Dortmund focused on digital innovation, artistic research, and technology-oriented education and training. It is funded by the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, the German Federal Cultural Foundation, the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), and the Wilo-Foundation, with the latter also providing the Dortmund share of the above-mentioned fellowships. It cooperates with the DTHG and the German Stage Association as well as numerous regional and international partners. The Academy sees itself as a place of innovation, inspiration, discourse, and exchange; a place of experimentation with new ideas without the fear of failure; a place of reflection and communication – a place of art!