100 years ago, the Danish scientist Niels Bohr received the Nobel prize for his revolutionary discoveries in quantum physics. His way of thinking still influences diverse spheres of our society today. Within the framework of our project “Quantum Aesthetic” three sound artworks have been created by the three artists – Jacob Kirkegaard from Denmark, Tie Yann from China, and Anna Fišere from Latvia, who work with sound as their primary medium. The works are incredible examples of how scientific concepts and theory can inspire art and lead to new ways of thinking about the world. The art pieces show us that art and science may not be as dissimilar as we may think.
The artist have been collaborating with the Danish scientist Oliver August Dall’Alba Sandberg from the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen. The sound artists have been exploring the world of quantum physics and have each been inspired by specific theories and scientific principles of quantum mechanics. During the creation process the artist also visited the Niels Bohr Institute to further explore the world of quantum physics, and to see the exhibition space.
During the fall of 2022 two sound art exhibition opened in Riga and Copenhagen. At the opening of “Complementary contradictions” in Riga in the autumn 2022 there were talks and performances from the artists Tie Yann (CH) and Anna Kirse (LV) and from physicists Mārcis Auziņš and Vjačeslavs Kaščejevs. The exhibition showed how we, by bringing the fields of art and science together, can create a space for dialogue on complicated subjects such as quantum science and engage the publics curiosity on this topic.
The exhibition “Complementary Resonance” also opened in the autumn of 2022 at the H.C. Ørsted Institute in Copenhagen during the annual culture night. The exhibition opening could be experienced as part of the official program, which included everything from lectures on black holes to chemistry shows. The exhibitions finished in November 2022 with a grand closing event in Riga in which Jacob Kirkegaard (DK) did a talk and did a mesmerizing sound art performance.
Both exhibitions accentuated the intersection of art and science in practice and engaged its audience in this interplay through performances, lectures, and concerts at the opening and closing events.
The artworks will carry on igniting new sparks in the minds of their audience in the spring of 2023 where the art pieces will travel to China to be a part of an exhibition at the Danish Culture Center in Beijing. The exhibition in Beijing reflects Niels Bohr’s inspiration from the Chinese philosophical line of thought known as Taoism. Tao is conceived as the unconditional and unknowable source and guiding principle of all reality. Bohr recognized a resemblance between Taoism and quantum science in that both seeks to harmonize opposites.
About the works
Jakob Kirkegaard Chaos Edge (2022)
Chaos Edge is a sound piece using two different recordings of butterflies. The first part of the work presents the stable but increasing tremble recorded from the tip of two wings on a butterfly poised for flight. The second, the unpredictable movement of the wings of a tethered butterfly in full flight mode.
Using these sounds from the butterfly, Chaos Edge seeks to sonify the “butterfly effect”: both the classic poetic metaphor that illustrates chaos theory, in which a small change in a system has a large influence in shaping its evolution, and the more recent quantum mechanical analogue where the butterfly effect is thwarted by preparing a particle in a specific quantum state which is taken back in time and modified without changing its nature in the present.
Photo by Jacob Kirkegaard
Tie Yann Quantum Drops (2022)
Using the very basic sound of pure frequency, Quantum Drops is re-creating the connections between sound frequencies, water and light in order to take the listener into deep space and find poetics that it is not possible to hear in the buzz of daily life.
As the only way to grasp the ideas behind quantum science is by experiencing and observing their effects, Quantum Drops is recreating the so-called double slit experiment and discovering the connection between quantum science and Taoism. Like Tao, the quantum world also “cannot be seen, but it exists. Infinitely deep, it is the source of all things.” In quantum, we are exploring our existence, we are all atoms, we are all connected, and Quantum Drops reflects on how dualities and contradictions tie the world together
Photograph of Tie Yann creating her piece.
Anna Fišere Mundus Invisibilis: Clean Room (2022)
Mundus Invisibilis: Cleanroom is an exploration of the great nuances of sound by string instruments in combination with electronic and synthesized sounds. The piece is inspired by a very specific quantum experiment based on the Pauli exclusion principle where a cloud of lithium atoms is supercooled and ultra-squeezed and becomes practically invisible to scientists.
Mundus Invisibilis: Cleanroom is an electro-acoustic string quartet piece that is filled with tiny details and nuances – precisely like the quantum world itself. The filigree strings are enhanced with a synthesized soundscape consisting of bubbles – as perfect, fragile and ungraspable as atoms. No doubt this world of atoms continues to be a mystery for the great majority, and Mundus Invisibilis: Cleanroom thus offers a glimpse of an unknown universe. “If everything is known, nothing new can be found, nothing incomprehensible.”
Author of illustration: Ilze Paklone