Gravitational Lensing

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The picture shows the tunnel of light, created by Laservision. Photo; Toke Odin Brorsson

Is our social responsivitiy what makes us adress human behaviour and intentions not only to objects like cars or computers, but also particles and astrophysical phenomenons? Even the web page of NASA describes a supermassive black hole as “hungry” and “lurking on an innocent star which just happened to be in the wrong neighborhood”.

A factual description of entangled quarks sounds like a romantic description of a love relationship. Another text about particles sounds like a description of introverts and extroverts; “some gain more mass by interacting, while the mass of others diminish when interacting”. And the phenomenon quantum tunneling – to overcome an obstacle you borrow energy from your self already on the other side – could be a visualization exercise from a coach.

We’re all made up by particles. What if it’s us showing particle behaviour rather than the other way around? If so much else is built up in fractal systems – why not behaviour?

This is a play with thoughts.

As children we explore the world through play. We create imaginary universes so real we discover its physics – even things we didn’t agree on before entering – because we enter with all our senses in a dead serious playful way. In these worlds we try ideas and perspectives, practice and have fun, get scared, upset, and then have fun again.

Through the artistic collective The Event Horizon we’ve made a series of projects where we explore how quantum physical phenomenons and astrophysical phenomenons can be tried and portrayed onstage. It also aims to be a platform for researchers to look at things in a new perspective – a rather old platform, considering how art and science always have been pushing each other forward.

In the projects I mix digital technology with human encounters, sensory input and deprivation, to create illusions of worlds and make room for interaction.

Here’s a presentation of the first project; GRAVITATIONAL LENSING.

“A wormhole appears in the bar. The Event Horizon will guide you into it, and maybe back again. Human. Quark. Supermassive black hole. Same same but different.”

Inkonst Malmö March 2013

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The epos about the space gondolder Aniara by Harry Martinson ends with the “wave of Nirvana” passing through the ship and everyone on it. In this version Nirvana meant crossing the event horizon of a supermassive black hole, and ending up in a bar in Malmö 2013 through a wormhole.

The pilot and other members from the Aniara are trying to find their way back to where they got off track and lost hope, and the audience helps them by entering the wormhole while being entangled, and afterwards by doing galaxy analysing through Galaxy Zoo.

The barmaid – the pilot Isagel – is polishing wine glasses. She holds the glass foot up, shows you how the light is bent in it, and tells you how everyone has a black hole in their lives. You can’t see it with the naked eye, but you can see the effect, how the gravity bends and distorts the perception of things in connection to it.

The next character is the Mimarob, who interviews the audience before entering, gives them instructions,  and entangles them so the crew can follow and measure their values while they’re inside the black hole.

“Question number 8. Do yo consider yourself as A. human B. space creature C. free alternative?

Question 9. On a scale between “high above the clouds” and “falling through the ground” – where would you describe yourself this moment?”

The Mimarob then draws a circle in the visitors hands with the finger, join hands to shape a circling move together.   

The assistant follows the visitor to the door, asks them to sit down in a wheel chair and put on a blindfold, and then takes them on a journey into the theatre. Or through space and time.

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Being blindfolded in a wheelchair you quickly loose track of time and space. Smells, touch, taste, choreographed lights and sounds help create an image of travelling through space.

The chair stops. Someone is in front of you. Takes your hands, makes the entangling move in your palm, and silently invites you to rise out of the wheel chair. They dance with you, and you don’t know for how long or how many they are. Then they put a rope in your hand. By gently pulling it they make you follow into the next room where the Astrolob is waiting.

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“We’re both particle and wave at the same time. We can’t simultaneously know the exact position and the exact speed of something. When you love, when you dance, when you look deeply into someones eyes; do you know exactly where you are, how time is passing? Where you end, and the other begins?”

Your blindfold comes off. You’re standing before a cloud chamber. While watching the collisions and decaying of the particles the Astrolob shows you the properties of the various particles, talks about how a particle can borrow energy from itself or the surroundings to get out of a trap (quantum tunneling) before it’s time to leave again.

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Wait alone in the photon sphere, with the remnants of the cockpit of the Aniara. Listen to the log message recorded by the pilot Isagel, when she saw the red shifting light and realized the Aniara was about to cross the event horizon.

Wait for the Poetissa to bring you to the event horizon.

You’re in a seemingly endless dark space, a few stars shining in the faraway. Together you look at the stars through a broken glass foot, to show the black hole and its gravitational lensing effect. The Poetissa offers you a blindfold, you put it on, and once again your are pushed into the unknown.

poetissans vision

Without words you’re helped up on a platform, you hold on while pushed through space and time, sounds of white noise and pulses increase, and suddenly things turn still and quiet.

Somebody takes your hand, again the entangling circle, you step off the platform. When your blindfold comes off you’re standing infront of an ancient star map. Someone says “welcome”, and invites you to sit down and have a raspberry while they tell you about how misunderstood black holes are. They don’t swallow things; things fall into them. They’re not the end of everything; they help new stars to form, and they push out jet streams and radiation too.

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You’re offered to pick a piece of paper out of a silver bowl. If the paper tells a way out, you need to leave. If the paper tells you to stay, you have to stay.

On the paper it says a quantum phenomenon or astrophysical phenomenon such as quantum tunnling, quantum teleportation or a white wormhole, and you may use one of these phenomenons to leave.

But before leaving you’re offered to to leave in a breath what you no longer need or want in the black hole, to push it out in a jetstream. When blowing at the starmap light appears; new stars being born.

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The character shows you the way out; a tunnel of light leads up a staircase, to a door.

“I can’t promise that you’ll come back to the same world as you left, or that you won’t. But I can promise you that the world won’t be exactly as when you left it.”

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Passing through the door you come back to the bar lounge, and report to the barmaid by making the entanglement-movement with your hands.

Afterwards you can hang around, have a talk with the researchers, check out the Galaxy Zoo, or just contemplate the experience.

Guest researchers from Lunds University; Leif Lönnblad – professor in theoretical physicist, and Alexey Brobeck – phd student in astrophysics. Philosopher Björn Rosell.

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