Ent-er the Garden of Forking Paths: Libby Heaney
Presenting the UK premiere of Ent- (Many Paths Version) (2022), Dr. Libby Heaney’s solo exhibition Ent-er the Garden of Forking Paths unearths the magical computational and artistic potentialities of quantum mechanics.
What if we could peer beyond the limitations of our perception? As the first Artist to use quantum computing as a functioning artistic medium, Dr. Libby Heaney is leading a timely contemplation on the near-future of lived experience. Prompting thought on determinism, Ent-er the Garden of Forking Paths hinges on the notion of quantum superposition, or “the ability for one thing to be in two or more possibilities at the same time”.
It is these parallel systems upon which quantum exists – superposition and entanglement being examples – which lend this technology functions and speeds that exponentially surpass the digital. Intensely pursued by governments and big tech companies, quantum’s vast computational ability is set to suffuse our lives. Via experiential, visual languages, shaped using Heaney’s quantum programming, Ent- lets us acclimatise to the eventual; to dip one’s toe into the quantum-age.
In visually referencing Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights (c.1490-1500), Heaney’s work considers duality and the undetermined. Quantum computation does away with our current binaries, introducing alternate and myriad ways of being, and, as the artist imagines, sits somewhere between Bosch’s vivid heaven and hell. Inherently uncontrollable and unknown, liminality can be represented in the glitching and falling away of Heaney’s visuals. Visitors are invited to move in a game scenario, experiencing quantum materiality on their own terms.
As the latest iteration of Heaney’s Ent- series of works, this exhibition continues the artist’s efforts to instigate conversation around quantum technologies within the arts and beyond.
The immersive version of Ent- was commissioned by LAS (Light Art Space) and first exhibited at Schering Stiftung, Berlin 2022. Ent- (Many Paths Version) was completed for the exhibition Calder and the 21st Century, Nahmad Contemporary, NYC, 2022.
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