[Pattern Art] Quantum Theory Research +Mooodboards

Quantum Theory


I started off with trying to get a grasp on various theories in QT: Quantum entanglement, cause and effect, the double-slit experiment, wave-particle duality, the Observer effect, etc. Here’s a small mind-map I made because drawing and writing things allows me to condense and understand information better on my own terms:

While everything was fascinating and all that, I felt that all the effect boiled down to the essence of superposition: when a particle can only be defined as being in more than one place at the same time, and how its location can only be determined the instant it is measured. Before quantum measurement, the particle seems to exist in a limbo: the greyness of the area between two existences.

 CONCEPT ONE: dualistic cosmology


Entanglement was a particularly fascinating subject to look up on, because of the unbelievability of the concept of two particles being connected no matter its distance. I mean it all sounds too romantic to be true lol and honestly as someone who doesn’t subscribe to religion, the phenomenon really shook my idea of the impossibilities of the physical world. :-((((

With the mythical nature of this theory, I thus wanted to focus more on translating the dualism presented in entanglement to the dualism that is present in a lot of mythology — like forces of light and dark, good and evil, masculinity and femininity, yin and yang.

Further research into a concept known as the Hegelian Dialectic showed a theory that was deeply linked to dualism. It proposes that we can only comprehend things that are in polar opposites — for example we can only understand the light when we are aware of the dark, only see things as skinny if we see things that are fat. Therefore, the thesis cannot exist without the antithesis, and the truth of any matter is present only in the synthesis — the grey area in between these polar opposites.

Looking into dualities between good and evil, I chanced upon the Hindu concept of the dharmayuddha — dharma meaning righteousness and yuddha meaning warfare. It is a war fought between two sides for nothing other than righteousness, with rules set for the entire war and absolute symmetric information between the two sides such that the side who prevails is a fair winner. I thought it was really relevant to the idea of duality in mythology and also reflected the ideals of the Hegelian Dialectic, and found Hindu art about it that I thought could serve as great references for motifs.



I was reading the Tao Te Ching, a classical Chinese text that is usually attributed to the sage Laozi (老子) from 6th-century BCE. It formed the basis for many religions that came after it, including Taoism and Buddhism, and it seemed to have a connection to quantum theory. Much of the brief alluded to Chapter 2 of the Tao, part of which goes:

“Therefore: What is and what is not create each other. Difficult and easy complement each other. Tall and short shape each other. High and low rest on each other. Voice and tone blend with each other. First and last follow each other.”

This seems to carry the same message as the Hegelian Dialectic that I brought up in the first concept. However, what I found to resonate less clearly but more deeply with what I understood about quantum theory was another chapter, which I have extracted here:

chapter four —
The way is empty, yet inexhaustible,
Like an abyss.
It seems to be the origin of all things.
It dulls the sharpness,
Unties the knots,
dims the light,
Becomes one with the dust.
Deeply hidden, as if it might only exist.
I do not know whose child it is.
It seems to precede the ancestor of all.


With this chapter came an interpretation of its meaning. It discussed that “The way is empty, yet inexhaustible.” referred to how the Tao (The Way) creates all the colossal grandeur we find in this world, yet is infinitesimal, like the dust.

With no discrimination as to whether it is a mouse or mountain, the Tao attends to all things with equal treatment. And because everything is at their core, made up of the same particles, the smaller a unit is, the closer it is to the Tao.

“And since most things in the world go by unnoticed, the hidden is also closer to the nature of Tao.”

And everything that we do notice, the grand and beautiful, are the powers that endure the least — the sharpest, tightest, and brightest are eventually dulled, unknotted and dimmed — nothing lasts longer than the dust that we are all made of. It is by being unobtrusive that we prevail, and come closer to the Tao.

CONCEPT three: the unfathomably random relationships borne of entanglement


“Inside your brain there just might be an electron firing in a neural network that is mysteriously connected to an electron in the egg you are frying for your morning breakfast. Or an electron in a grape growing in the Stellenbosch region of South Africa, or, even, connected to an electron on the other side of the universe. Such is the physics of quantum entanglement.” – Gary Hemmings

This blurb really heightened the elusiveness of entanglement — that we could be mysteriously connected to absolutely anything — any particle in our body (and there are millions of millions within us) could be entangled with anything else in the universe. Like I could throw out literally anything!! A particle within me could have every possibility of being entangled with another particle floating around like in the Berlin Wall, a circuit in the ISS, a drop in the Amazon, a stain on a wall in like Bolivia or something. That’s so asdfjalf!!

With all those random things (that aren’t really that random) it’d be really cool to create a work that was based off a stream of consciousness. There are so many things that flit in and out of our minds that we never register (but maybe its our entangled particles calling out to us HAHAHA). It would make for a really interesting and quirky work hehe.

[The Art of Networked Practice] Hyperessay

The Art of the Networked Practice Online Symposium started up on a weary Friday night. It was at that time that I did not realise that the Symposium would truly open my eyes to the ingenuity and complexity behind the ideas espoused by artists such as Blast Theory and Annie Abrahams, bringing me closer to the concept of warping time and space, and interacting over the digital broadband.

The first session I attended was one which hosted an online lecture by the experimental artist Maria X and included an online performance hosted by Annie Abrahams, both of which discussed the theme of telematics and interactive performances, albeit clearly in different manners. Maria X’s lecture brought us through the idea of Internationalism and the prominence in the concept of telematics. The insight in the concept of telematics being a ‘relational medium’ struck me, as it defined such a form of art as being about the relationship between systems, and between humans, like performers and artists. With the expansion of social broadcasting to become many-to-many, instead of one-to-many, one could say that based on this definition, the world of telematic art is being infused with more complex and intersecting relationships between the participants and systems in the artwork. For example, seminal works from the formulating years of telematic art that Maria X introduced in the Symposium included Nam June Paik’s Global Groove, and Kit Galloway and Rabinowitz’s Hole in Space, works that sought for a work conducted by many performers, to reach many viewers, with systems acting as a facilitating body for these interactions to be carried out.

Slide from Maria X’s lecture showing Kit Galloway and Rabinowitz’s Hole in Space performance.

However, a key difference between these works is another concept that Maria X brought up in the lecture — the aspects of live versus a recorded performance. As Maria quoted from Levinas, “Since the other looks at me, his responsibility is incumbent upon me.” There is an ethical responsibility to respond to a person once you invite them to look upon you, of which intensity is much higher within a live performance, with the corporeal presence of both performer and audience present, as opposed to a recorded performance that can be played, rewound and fast forwarded at any point in time today. As heard from Maria’s lecture, liveness is defined as a moment that is infinitely open to interaction, transformation and connection. Liveness creates a personal dynamic between the performer and audience, and in today’s socially broadcasted performances where the audience acts as the performer, ideas generated by these people bounce off one another to create artwork that is full of intricate connections and relationships that go beyond the capabilities of a single artist.

Screenshot of the online performance, where all the artists are sitting and closing their eyes.

Along that vein, the performance conducted by the artists within the Symposium serves as a stellar example of such interaction, and the element of ‘liveness’. The piece starts off powerfully with each artist reciting their latency numbers and status, made even more poignant by the fact that the audio that we hear from them is already subjected to such delays. It devolves into different objects being interacted with in front of the camera, and the artists reciting phrases that sound like they are derived from wildly different contexts. It changes to the artists then are shown sitting, closed-eye, in silence, until they gradually disappear from the screen.

Start of the performance, when all artists were reciting their latency numbers and status

I thought the post-performance discussion was interesting, as one of the performers, Helen Varley Jamieson, brought up that her connection was poor throughout almost all of her training sessions with the rest, but the actual day saw her with excellent connection. This brings to mind what Annie Abrahams espouses in her artwork — to embrace the presence of an error, the volatility of latency, within, I quote from her, “the entanglement of human and machine”. This closely relates to Maria X’s earlier reference to the telematic embracing of faults within digital technology, as these errors allow artists to exploit them to create new artwork, similar to what is discussed Rosa Menkman’s Glitch Studies Manifesto, where glitches create a ‘realm of new conditions’, a new playground for artists to explore and experiment within its confines until a new glitch arises.

What I personally felt about the performance was that it was somewhat a social study of the human mind. While the performance was ongoing, the audience was free to chat and speculate amongst themselves about the piece, and there were audience members giving input on what they thought the artists meant with the different objects. I feel as if the performance was a deliberate attempt to twist the human mind into finding a link as we are so often found doing in our lives — a pattern, and a cohesive narrative, to make sense of something that is placed in front of us, when in fact there could be absolutely none at all. (Or perhaps I missed a hugely important central theme ahahaha)

The second day saw Matt Adams, co-founder of Blast Theory, guiding us through the history of their works which proved to be hugely influential within the interactive media community. There was much talk of the transitioning of the perception of the Internet as a platform, when it first emerged, as a utopia of possibility, but through its privatisation and profit, it is now a zone where control is heavily exerted, and possibility has been whittled down to almost nothing. It has transitioned from a zone for the outlawed to a mainstream channel for dissemination of information. Works from Blast Theory that took place during such a transition that caught my eye were projects like My Neck of the Woods and Uncle Roy All Around You.

Screenshot from Matt Adam’s lecture on Blast Theory about Kidnap

The project Kidnap also interested me in how it toed a  line and exploited legal loopholes in order to carry out what seemed to be an immoral and illegal act, that others actively took part in despite the negative tone the artwork carried on the surface. Their works are truly inspiring in the way they use digital technology in revolutionary ways to connect people without relying on superficial questions, through the true push and pull of real conversations and interactions, or placing people within different hierarchies of control within the performance.

Screenshot from a video about Blast Theory’s My Neck of the Woods

Overall, the symposium has been an awe-inspiring insight into the world of professional interactive digital performances, and it is quite humbling to have renowned artists themselves dissecting their complex ideas and theories for us. The usage Adobe Connect and the chatroom function act as a alternative social dimension that truly evokes the concept of real-time interaction over space and time, and allowed us to make our thoughts known to the artists despite these differences. I thought it was an interesting how during a performance we could freely discuss in silence despite the geographical barriers, something that could not be done in real life because of the noise — which raises questions on the human perception of proximity relating to intimacy. Advancements in technology have led to us needing to re-evaluate our inherent perceptions and values, and this Symposium was an event where this was certainly done.