Schrödinger Boxes (under construction)

Schrödinger Boxes

Schrödinger, in conversation with Einstein, proposed a famous thought experiment which involved closed box and a cat which inhabited two states simultaneously (both dead and alive, depending on the outcome of a random subatomic event that might or might not occur). The thought experiment illustrated a conflict between quantum reality and classical reality.

This work is a set of two white cubes mounted on antique surveyor’s tripods. It invites imaginative speculation about ideas of the seen/unseen, the knowable/unknowable, about life/death/rebirth and about the agency of the viewer. The boxes might also be recognised as an inversion of the ‘white cube’ gallery space.

The higher cube has two peepholes in each face. There are resonances of an old-fashioned plate camera and of images of a ‘War of the Worlds’ invader. The eye-level peepholes tempt you to look within, but in fact each peephole only allows a view out of one hole on the opposite side of the box (accomplished by an invisible system of tubes inside which link the peepholes in pairs). The viewer cannot satisfy curiosity about what might be in the box, but instead their gaze is directed by the positioning of the artwork.  The work is designed to be placed in the Lady Chapel of Wells Cathedral so that the ‘views’ can be directed to sections of the stained glass windows.

The second cube has a glass lid which is theoretically openable but locked with a large combination lock. You look down into the box as if you were looking at a museum cabinet displaying scientific specimens.  Inside, the box is painted black and contains two items: a taxidermy dove (an ambiguous reference to the life of the spirit beyond death) and a smaller box, painted with mirror-paint. Unseen inside the smaller box is (or perhaps isn’t) a crystal ball.