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Exhibition: Libby Heaney’s ‘Ent-’, quantum computing as medium & subject matter

Text by CLOT Magazine

Commissioned by LAS Ent- is a major exhibition by artist and physicist Libby Heaney at The Schering Stiftung, who has been experimenting with quantum computing for a number of years. Libby Heaney, the only artist in the world using quantum computing as a functioning artistic medium, takes quantum computing to a new level: in Ent-, a 360-degree immersive installation, quantum computing is both medium and subject matter. Ent- explores the transformative changes quantum computing is expected to wreak on the future of everyday life.

Ent- is a quantum interpretation of the central panel of Hieronymus Bosch’s famous triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights. Visitors enter a black cube in which a 360-degree projection takes them through the layers of Bosch’s painting – sky, buildings and landscapes, and water.

Libby Heaney has experimented with self-written quantum code to manipulate and animate her own paintings, merging them with the quantum native images to create hybrid organisms, breathing landscapes and exploding structures. They all come together in an immersive artwork centred around a 360° experience that will unfold to the viewer inside a ‘black box’. 

Heaney investigates the positive potential of ‘thinking quantum’. One of its most important concepts, quantum superposition, allows particles to exist in multiple states or places at once. For her, thinking in terms of new pluralities has the potential to break down binary thinking and political polarisation; engendering community thought that might solve global problems as severe as the climate crisis or allow for new paradigms when considering critical issues such as gender identity.

Working with quantum physics can subvert the endless categorizations and control of humans and non-humans alike in pursuit of never-ending profits, causing accelerating alienation. She says. 

Ent- is on view through May 01, 2022, at Schering Stiftung in Berlin.

(Image courtesy of LAS)
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