November 28, 2018 - Exhibition Research Lab - Quantum Real - Art and Particles
November 28, 2018

Exhibition Research Lab

Matthew C. Wilson, The Age of Autonomous Exploration, part of the project A Projection of the Colonial Imaginary, 2018. Near infrared UHD video with sound. 

Quantum Real - Art and Particles
Prologue: Spectral Exchange
December 17, 2018–February 1, 2019

Exhibition Research Lab
Liverpool School of Art and Design, Liverpool John Moores University
Duckinfield Street
L3 5RD Liverpool
Hours: Monday–Friday 10am–5pm

A series of investigations and events developed by Joasia Krysa and Lars Bang Larsen.

Inspired by the brief lessons of Carlo Rovelli; the theories of Karen Barad; the paintings of Hilma af Klint; how the hippies saved physics and the scientific return of ether as cosmic honey; and the art, poetry and particle physics of Ken McMullin, John Berger and Michael Doser.*

In search for answers to fundamental questions about the more-than-human history of the cosmos, particle physics has scrutinized the world at the quantum scale, altering what we know and revealing the extent of our unknowing. It is now accepted by science that at the scale of particles—these elementary ingredients that act like bricks in a gigantic Lego set and with which the entire material reality surrounding us is constructed, as Rovelli puts it—matter and energy behave very differently from the everyday reality that we see. The quantum world is one that has its own materiality, between the real and imaginary, measurable and immeasurable, visible and invisible, all at the same time; as Karen Barad writes, Matter itself is always already open to, or rather entangled with, the "Other.”

The project investigates what constitutes reality at various scales and dimensions, engaging with ideas of particle physics and art as a set of entangled concepts. It develops as a series of research investigations and propositions articulated through public presentations, exhibitions and other formats, to address fundamental questions and to imagine what has not yet been known.

The series begins with The Prologue: Spectral Exchange taking place at Exhibition Research Lab in Liverpool, between December 2018 and February 2019. Videos by artists Matthew C. Wilson and Jol Thomson will seed an evolving exhibition. Wilson’s Field Notes tracks shifting spatial, temporal, and theoretical horizons from marine navigation to quantum optics. Thomson’s G24|0vßß audio-visual composition approaches the coldest piece of matter in the universe—the CUORE experiment, National Laboratory of Gran Sasso, Italy—sinking out of the observable cosmos via temperature into a radical outside. Thomson dreamed a composition into that space, iteratively extending horizons of thought, scale and agency.

Wilson and Thomson’s exchange will materialize over two months, concluding with an in-person conversation. The exhibition becomes a platform for exchange: a zone receiving generative materials, formed, reformed, later analyzed and deciphered. The artists’ conversation will critically engage notions of measuring the imperceptible, horizons, anomalies, and opticality. Positioning artists as embedded agents within physics, the discussion will collapse field work with/in the quantum field. 

Spectral Exchange is a peripatetic, discursive framework and methodological experiment initiated by Wilson to connect disparate domains of knowledge and practice, launched in November 2018 with support from Tabakalera, Donostia-San Sebastián (Spain). Wilson works in scientific contexts from archeological excavations to observatories. In 2019 he will collaborate with researchers at Aalto University's School of Science and School of Chemical Engineering as Aalto Artist in Residence (Finland). Thomson works closely with international scientific institutes including IceCube Neutrino Observatory, SNOLAB (Canada), ITER (France), National Oceanographic Centre (UK) and the European Gravitational Observatory (Italy).

*References: Carlo Rovelli, Seven Brief Lessons on Physics (2017); Reality is Not What it Seems (2017); Karen Barad, Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning (2007); Ken McMullin (with John Berger and Michael Doser), Art, Poetry and Particle Physics (2004); Hilma Af Klint’s impure abstraction, David Kaiser’s How the Hippies Saved PhysicsScienceCounterculture, and the Quantum Revival (2012), and the Higgs boson, that in a sense reintroduces the ether theories otherwise killed by Einstein in the early 20th century.


Exhibition Research Lab is an academic research centre and a public venue established in 2012 as part of Liverpool School of Art and Design, Liverpool John Moores University. Dedicated to the interdisciplinary study of exhibitions and curatorial knowledge, it presents a year round programme of exhibitions, events, residencies, fellowships, publications, and education at postgraduate and doctoral levels. 

Exhibition Research Lab
Share - Quantum Real - Art and Particles
  • Share
Click to subscribe to e-flux and be the first to receive the latest news on international exhibitions and all e-flux related announcements
Subscribe to e-flux
Be the first to receive the latest news on international exhibitions and all e-flux related announcements.
Subscribe to architecture
Explore the most recent content from e-flux architecture and urbanism
Subscribe to e-flux programs
Keep up-to-date on all upcoming talks, screenings, and exhibitions at e-flux in New York