.::..Nicholas Sagan..::. …:.::..artworks and experiments…::.:…nicholassagan@gmail.com

Introduction to Performed Physics

Last summer I did a series of video pieces that were aesthetic explorations of certain scientific concepts.  While there were some interesting beginnings of something, the works themselves were a little banal (it took me time to accept that).  Ok.  In response to that I did some photography experiments where I was playing at physics experiments.  They were essentially just the properties of light and time, the main elements of what makes a photograph exactly what it is.  While none of them were in reference to any particular experiment, they did have results that were far more curious and rich in terms of content.  They become sort of documentation of performances.  Since photography has the ability to record over time, the entire duration of many of the vignettes were all recorded on a single exposure.

Jumping ahead to the heels of the past few weeks, I’ve decided to reinvigorate this particular form of investigation.  This time I would like to develop each performance with a little more background information, not only about the history of photographically documenting performances but of the nature of the scientific concepts I wish to explore within.  As was the case last summer with the video experiments, I will be using Who’s Afraid of Schrodinger’s Cat as a guide for my photography experiments.  I feel this is something that can help to not only contextualize the works but inform the line of inquiry regarding the paradox of empiricism.  Naturally, things aren’t always what they appear to be.

I don’t want to say I’ve been browsing this reference book because that term implies a lack of intentionality or indeterminacy.  I’ve been extracting some of the more interesting and relevant topics that are in accordance with the ideas of performance and documentation.  There are some things that either require any aesthetic response to be purely conceptual (such as Behaviorism or Autopoietic Systems), which I’m not opposed to in the long run, or I just don’t have any interest in attempting to perform (GAIA Theory, for example).  There are also some of ideas that could yield some very interesting results are a little more challenging and I feel I would need to work up to them, there are some that are too base or general and there are some that I’ve attempted before (positive feedback loops, Dark Matter).  Of course, it is entirely possible to create aesthetic responses to almost every topic in this book, to do so would move somewhere outside of what I would like to create.

As I move through the book I will be posting some ruminations on specific topics.  But here are some ideas for a starting point:

1. Schrodinger’s Paradox Everything in the reality that we have come to know and love is but a series of actualities that come from countless potentialities.  Schrodinger’s cat is in a box.  A random isotope decay triggers a release for either food or poison for this cat.  Now, we don’t know which of the two is given to the cat UNTIL we open the box and see for ourselves.  So, up until the moment of observation, everything “exists” in this realm of potentiality.  How can this be exemplified in terms of observation of a performance?  Does a performance exist only in the documentation?  How can you go backwards from documentation TO a performance?

2. Minimal entropy (or attempting absolute zero) How can light be slowed down for it’s movement to be made visible to the human eye?  SO, the first thing we would have to do is figure the speed of light (299,792,458 m/s) slowed down to a percentage that matches the refresh rate of the human eye (290 hz or something like that).  Set up a super high speed camera in a room and film the instant of a light turning on and then off.  Then we slow the video down to the calculated percentage.  I think the distance from the light to the camera must figure in there somewhere to.  So, if light travels at 300 billion meters a second and the camera is 3 meters from the light source, it would take the light 100 billionth of a second to reach the lens (approximately!).  So that tiny bit of time must be slowed down to a 300th of a second for the movement of light to be visible.  That means slowing down the video…hmm…beep beep….boop boop….1 to the -6th?  Or rather, 1 million percent slower.  Shit.

3. Continuous Symmetries and Homogeneous Space More on this later…but is everything linear and nothing out of context?

4. Is time isotropic? Space sure is.  Without some object or mass or energy in the way, space is the same in all directions.  So why not time?  Time is marked by the movement of one thing to the next, by entropy and decay…but entropy could be considered a generative (or autopoietic) system when reversed…so what’s the difference?

5. Limit Cycle Attractors More on this later, too…

6. Bell’s Theorem. Let’s say we take two particles we know to be complimentary.  Before any measurement of their polarity is taken, each could be either positive or negative.  It is only when we measure one that the other becomes apparent.  So if we measure one to be positively charged, the other will be negatively charged.  Polarity is intrinsically indeterminate until measured, at least in the world of quantum mechanics.  Some experiments with Bell’s Theorem have shown that this is also the case when particles are measured at different times, meaning there is some sort of deep underlining symmetry.  This also means that some aesthetic responses could be created using mirrors and/or lasers to bounce light back and forth before entering the camera…

7. Collapse of the Wave Function (where all potentialities coalesce into a single actuality).  This can also be termed singularity, where the wave function of all the variable of general relativity and quantum mechanics breaks down, as in a Black Hole.  The idea of a singularity can also be in reference to the point in the technological develop of the human race where machines become autonomous or self-aware (see Clock of the Long Now).  I suppose some ways of constructing an aesthetic experience of this could range from the very literal, where I am taking a single-exposure with multiple instances of myself converging upon a single action.  The result could be several ‘ghostly’ images moving into a single opaque self.

After all that, it will be interesting to try and repeat the experiments from last summer.

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