May 25, 2024

Quantum Real – Art and Particles, 2018 – ongoing

A series of investigations and events developed by Joasia Krysa and Lars Bang Larsen.

Inspired by the brief lessons of Carlo Rovelli; the theories of Karen Barad; the paintings of Hilma af Klint; how the hippies saved physics and the scientific return of ether as cosmic honey; and the art, poetry and particle physics of Ken McMullin, John Berger and Michael Doser.*

In search for answers to fundamental questions about the more-than-human history of the cosmos, particle physics has scrutinised the world at the quantum scale, altering what we know and revealing the extent of our unknowing. It is now accepted by science that at the scale of particles—these elementary ingredients that act like bricks in a gigantic Lego set and with which the entire material reality surrounding us is constructed, as Rovelli puts it—matter and energy behave very differently from the everyday reality that we see. The quantum world is one that has its own materiality, between the real and imaginary, measurable and immeasurable, visible and invisible, all at the same time. As Karen Barad writes, Matter itself is always already open to, or rather entangled with, the “Other.”

The project investigates what constitutes reality at various scales and dimensions, engaging with ideas of particle physics and art as a set of entangled concepts. It develops as a series of research investigations and propositions articulated through public presentations, exhibitions and other formats, to address fundamental questions and to imagine what has not yet been known.

The series begins with Prologue: Spectral Exchange taking place at Exhibition Research Lab December 17, 2018 – February 1, 2019. Videos by artists Matthew C. Wilson and Jol Thomson will seed an evolving exhibition. Wilson’s Field Notes tracks shifting spatial, temporal, and theoretical horizons from marine navigation to quantum optics. Thomson’s G24|0vßß audio-visual composition approaches the coldest piece of matter in the universe—the CUORE experiment, National Laboratory of Gran Sasso, Italy —sinking out of the observable cosmos via temperature into a radical outside. Thomson dreamed a composition into that space, iteratively extending horizons of thought, scale and agency.


The project is supported by Arts Council England and Liverpool School of Art and Design.


*References: Carlo Rovelli, Seven Brief Lessons on Physics (2017); Reality is Not What it Seems (2017); Karen Barad, Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning (2007); Ken McMullin (with John Berger and Michael Doser), Art, Poetry and Particle Physics (2004); Hilma Af Klint’s impure abstraction, David Kaiser’s How the Hippies Saved Physics: Science, Counterculture, and the Quantum Revival (2012), and the Higgs boson.