Jean-Philippe Uzan

CNRS research director (theoretical physics)

October 2022

Portrait of Jean-Philippe Uzan

Crédits: Marili Clark

  • Social Sciences and Humanities
  • Music
  • Cities
  • Marfa
"Starting with a fictional premise, I would like to explore an imagined anthropological hypothesis that separates humanity into two species and considers how these future extraterrestrials might evolve."

I’m a research director at CNRS, specializing in gravitation and cosmology at the Paris Institute of Astrophysics (IAP). I am also involved in scientific outreach work.  


Centered on the Big Bang model, my research has led me to reflect on what kind of knowledge is produced by science and how it relates to other forms of discourse on the world. I have worked on initiatives to change the public’s view of science (including through cinema and fiction, as well as through urban astronomy geared particularly toward hospitalized children, young refugees, and young migrants).  


Following an artistic approach, I explore the porosity between these different perspectives on the world. Avoiding the vague ambivalence of the term ‘interdisciplinarity’, I strive instead to develop an ‘indiscipline’ as a free space to conceive of the world without the disciplinary constraints of relativism. In this spirit, I have investigated the bonds between music and astronomy in my book, The Secret Harmony of the Universe (2017); and our ever-evolving view of the skies above in the plays 5.Tera-Nuits+1 (“5.Tera-Nights+1”) (2020) and Dark Conférence (“Dark Conference”) (2017). In music, I have also been involved in creating the installation, Vostok (2010); in directing Formulaire (“Form”) (2017); and in writing Hawking Songs (2021). In 2019, I launched the Sanctuary project, and transformed the Eiffel Tower into a sundial. 


During my residency, I will continue exploring our relationship with sky, space, and the resources contained therein. This time, I will take a more political stance, which I deem necessary in the current global context.  


Jean-Philippe Uzan has published over 150 articles in international journals, as well as three monographs. He formerly held the title of Deputy Director at the Henri Poincaré Institute (IHP).   

Uzan was awarded the Paul Langevin Prize in 2010, followed by the Georges Lemaître Prize in 2015. The (35391) XN3 asteroid has been named in his honor. He has also written nine popular science books, including Big-Bang, which won the 2019 Astronomy Book Prize (Prix du Livre d’Astronomie).  

 Crossing perspectives from science, anthropology and art, Jean-Philippe Uzan has collaborated with many artists, including the theater director, Étienne Pommeret; the composers Eddie Ladoire, Fabien Waksman, and Arnaud Petit; and the plastic artist, SMITH.  


In partnership with

centre pompidou
Centre Pompidou

Since 1977, the Centre Pompidou has presented a rich programme at the crossroads between different art forms and audiences. Its iconic building is home to one of the world's largest modern and contemporary art collections, in addition to exhibitions, symposiums, festivals, shows, projections, and workshops for young audiences, making it an unparalleled cultural institution, deeply rooted in the cultural fabric of Paris and open to the world and to new innovation. 


Learn more