To Be and Not To Be…

By Molly Schiff

High school physics is something that you may or may not have had to take. The material taught ranges from Newton’s laws of motion to quantum mechanics, even including concepts in mathematics. While coming quite naturally to some, others struggled with the content. It has many abstract concepts that could be difficult to understand, one of which is the most notorious ‘thought experiment’ Schrödinger’s cat. Simply put, it displays the limitless possibilities of the universe through a mathematical formula. Something entrenched in math and science may not seem like something one could represent through art. But, the potential of using art to explore anything in the world has no limit, including a scientific notion like this. The Bookery Gallerie is the home of an exhibit titled Schrödinger’s Cat put on by guest curator Jowonder highlighting artwork that pushes the bounds of reality, begging questions regarding what is truly real. A nod to the concept of Schrödinger’s cat itself. Read more about it in To Be and Not To Be

Schrödinger’s Cat is a mathematical equation in quantum physics. What it covers is referred to as a superposition of states. Essentially, a quantum particle can be in two states at the same time until it is observed. In the hypothetical experiment, the cat represents a quantum particle.

Schrödingers Cat Equation

This is how it would work where the physical cat is concerned: you put a container containing a radioactive particle, a cat, a particle detector, a hammer, and cyanide (a material that could kill you) in a box. The hammer is connected to the particle detector, and is set to drop if the radioactive particle is detected. If you use the correct amount of the particle, there is a fifty percent chance a particle will emit within the hour.

Nobody can say with certainty whether or not this will happen, because radioactive particles are unstable. It may be released, it may not. It is impossible to know. But, in the event that the particle emits, the particle detector (called a Geiger Counter) will drop the hammer, crushing the container with the cyanide in it. It is now loose in the box with the cat. 

In Schrödinger’s Cat, a cat can be both dead and alive based on an event (on a subatomic level, naturally) that may or may not have happened. By making it a thought experiment, Schrödinger makes it clear that everything about to be outlined is hypothetical. You cannot conduct it.

Right before the box is opened, the cat is both dead and alive. Prompting one to ask: How is that possible? It is quite a confusing concept. Simply put, nothing in matter is certain until you observe it for yourself. This school of thought is called the Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum physics. The concept outlined here states that before you lay your eyes on something, in this case, the cat, it is both there and not there. Both dead and alive. You do not know what you have not observed.

Jowonder designed the Schrödinger’s Cat exhibit to have no constraints. For the artist’s art to exist as it is. Much aligned with the experiment itself, she questions what is there and not there. The art displays the freedom that comes with not knowing; with existing as multiple objects at a time. 

Jowonder, Dr. Cream, and Uberfubs, CiCi Blumstein, D Kintsugi, Jonathan Ross have curated an exhibit with artwork from the following artists: Light Fantastic & Bernadette and Ron Olson, Baron Gilvan, Linda Landers, Lesley Butler, Lorenzo Belenguer, Max Kimber, Maryam Hashemi, Paul Friedlander, Richard Niman, George Perendia, Mark Stafford, Samar F. Zia, Linda Landers with Bob Parks, Sarah Sparkes, Catherine Gerbrands.

An Attempt to Visually Represent a Moment of Quantum Particles by Lorenzo Belenguer

One inclusion in this gallery comes from Lorenzo Belenguer, with his sculpture titled An Attempt to Visually Represent a Moment of Quantum Particles. This stunning visual truly has endless ways of being interpreted. Quantum particles themselves are incredibly complex. One would have difficulty discerning where such a thing exists at an exact point in time. It seems Lorenzo has created this piece to show that the particle can exist anywhere at any moment as anything.

Head in the Clouds by Richard Niman

The Head in the Clouds sculpture done by Richard Niman is thought-provoking. You are looking at a bucket and legs extending out of it. One might ask: How much of the person is inside the bucket? Is there any person inside of the bucket at all? Nobody knows for sure what is inside of that bucket, which perfectly exemplifies the principle of Schrödinger’s cat. Until you can see what remains inside with your own two eyes, there is a duality. Both the rest of the person in there and none of the person in there at all. Multiple possibilities exist at once.

Infinite Cat by Isobel Smith

Isobel Smith created a sculpture that she gave the name Infinite Cat. Upon looking at this, it resembles a bunny rabbit jumping rope. But, it is called Infinite Cat, so it must be a cat. Is it jumping rope, or is it floating atop the rope?

Schrödinger’s Cat Street Art by Dr. Cream Ubathubs

And then there is Schrödinger’s Cat Street Art done by Dr. Cream Ubathubs. In this depiction, it appears that the cat is running away from the deadly cyanide that will take its life. The cyanide particle appears to be living. It has a face and is grabbing the tail of the poor cat. The story Ubathubs began to tell in this picture has no end, leaving it up to the viewer’s interpretation. Yes, the particle is grabbing hold of the cat, but did it take its life? Or did the cat escape? And until you see what happened, the cat both survived and died. Just like it did in the experiment.

This exhibit is running until this upcoming Saturday, the twelfth of March. Visit for more information. Get in to see the art while you can!

All in all, the pieces of artwork displayed in the Schrödinger’s Cat exhibit leave the spectators pondering the possibilities of the scenario beyond the art itself. It shows you how an untold story can have any possible ending until you know with certainty how it ends. But, above all else, it displays how art is a beautiful tool to tell any story you could want.

If you liked reading To Be and Not to Be, why not read Free to Be

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