Schrödinger’s cat is alive… in Sweden!

In late October I took the plane to Sweden to participate in the annual AHA Festival. Chalmers University in Goteborg had asked me to create an artwork in which I reconcile art with science. They also asked me to give a talk about my history as an artist and the work I made for the occasion. I took on the challenge with great enthusiasm!

chalmers university sweden aha festival wim de prez art science

The AHA! Festival for Art and Science

aha festival Art and Science sweden goteborg
I was asked to participate in the third edition of the AHA Festival, an annual meeting between art and science in an event that lasts three days at the Chalmers University of Technology. It is organized by the department of architecture and the department of physics. It is an international gathering of scientists and artists who want to share their vision and work with eachother.

A lecture about my art

During the second day of the festival, I gave a lecture about my history as an artist. For a half hour I talked about my work as an artist. I started at the beginning of my career and explained step by step how I developed my personal artistic style.

It gave me great satisfaction to meticulously explain to a room full of scientists and artists how my work is created. I talked about how I make my paintings and how my sculptures are created. I explained in detail how I use 3D software and 3D printing to produce my imaginative creations in a modern way.

The reason I had come all the way to Sweden, of course, was the piece of art I made for the festival. You can read more about the work itself in my previous blog. The biggest challenge I encountered in Sweden came when I had to explain how this work came about. The work is an attempt to reconcile art with famous thought experiments in physics and quantum mechanics. When I was talking about quantum theory, I had to make sure I made no mistakes, since the auditorium was filled with physicists who have studied this matter their whole life. In the end, I succeeded. The physicists in the audience found it refreshing that an artist knew so much about physics and the artists were surprised that I could hold my own in this field.

Step by step I explained the significance of the works I made for the Festival. I explained my interpretation of Schrödinger’s cat, my realization of Maxwell’s demon and my ideas about the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics.

AHA Festival Art and Science Goteborg Wim De Prez chalmers university

Art and science reconciled in… art

The work I made for the university was installed in a corridor of the department of physics. During a reception the work was introduced to the guests of the festival.

It was an honor to introduce my work to this group of extremely interesting people. Moreover, I think it’s magnificent to know that my artistic work now lives on in Sweden.

AHA Festival Art and Science Goteborg Wim De Prez chalmers university

 

Interesting conversation with fascinating people

The best thing about my stay in Goteborg was that I met many new fascinating people. For example, I spoke with Arthur I. Miller, professor emeritus of history and philosophy of science at University College London. I talked to him about quantum mechanics and my work. I also had a fascinating encounter with Joseph Nechvátal, an artist who uses homemade computer viruses to create digital paintings and animations.

AHA Festival Art and Science Goteborg Wim De Prez chalmers university

More to come!

Commissioned art can sometimes produce great results. It pushes the artist to explore his limits and discover new creative horizons. My project for Chalmers University has given my work a significant push in a new direction. You can admire the work in Sweden, or if this trip is a bit too much, you can come to my next exhibition at Gallery Number Four. In the exhibition ‘And Now for Something Completely Different …’, I will reveal works that build on this project. Furthermore, I hope I will get more chances in the future to give lectures. If you are interested in booking me for a lecture, you can always send an email to info@wimdeprez.be.

Schrödinger’s cat is dead! Long live Schrödinger’s cat!

Chalmers University in Goteborg, Sweden asked me to participate in the AHA Festival, an academic festival created to reconcile art and science. They wanted me to create a work of art within the theme of physics. I chose two subjects: ‘Schrodinger’s cat’ and ‘Maxwell’s demon’. My whole life I’ve been interested in physics, quantum mechanics and how our universe works, so of course I was very happy to provide my interpretation of this subject. My artistic-scientific journey began with Schrödinger’s cat.

Schrödinger’s cat brought to life

Schrödinger’s cat refers to a thought experiment which was formulated in 1935 by Erwin Schrödinger to show the ramifications of quantum mechanics. With this thought experiment, he wanted to show how on the smallest scale, our universe is very unpredictable and how it goes against human intuition. To do this, Schrödinger connected the atomic level of the universe to our relatable world. Schrödinger created a hypothetical box which can kill a cat inside with a mechanism controlled by quantum mechanic events. Because of the nature of quantum mechanics, the cat is simultaneously alive and dead until you open the box. This insecurity disappears when the box is opened and you observe whether the cat is dead or alive.

To bring to life Schrödinger’s cat, I decided to create my own version of the experiment. I looked for ways to make my own confusing cat box. Eventually, I design the machine that will decide the faith of the cat. I put the cat in the box and sealed it shut permanently. Nobody will ever be able to open the box. The cat will forever be simultaneously dead and alive.

To accompany the box, I created a collage to show how I did my artistic-scientific research en how the box came to be.

 Maxwell’s Demon

Maxwell’s Demon is a thought experiment devised by Scottish physicist James Clerk Maxwell to question the Second Law of Thermodynamics. I recreated this demon in my typical artistic style. It is a very interesting intellectual exercise, but to understand the details of it, you should go take look at Wikipedia. Below is the scuplure I made to celebrate Maxwell’s Demon.

The cat and the demon on canvas

To further expand on the installation on Schrödinger’s cat and the sculpture of Maxwell’s Demon, I painted my vision of the two thought experiments on canvas. In these two works, I incorporated many elements of physics. It became a thoroughly complex cartoon.

The Many-worlds interpretation

Quantum mechanics has inspired a lot of heavy thinking the last century. One of the theories inspired by quantum mechanics is the many-worlds interpretation. This theory, formulated by Hugh Everett III in 1957, says that every possible alternative universe exists. In the case of Schrödinger’s cat, the cat is both a live and dead, but in different universes. There are infinite worlds. There is a world where Clinton was president and a world in which Trump is president. There is a world where chocolate is green and a world in which the earth has four moons. I put this concept into a tableau that shows some of the possible worlds

And now for something completely different…

If you want to see this piece of art in real life, you will have to book a plane ticket to Sweden. I do not expect that people will start a major pilgrimage to theChalmers University to see my work, but that’s okay, because in my next exhibition I will build on this work. Want to know how I will do this? Come take al ook the first two weekends of December. Click the link below for more information.