The Science of You and I (2020)

You are here with me now, have you changed shape? We are changing each other as you look at me and I look back. In physics the mere presence of a passive observer can alter the outcome of an experiment. Small particles behave entirely differently when we watch them move as opposed to simply measuring where their energy has landed. The simple act of watching can alter the fundamental nature of matter. The observer constitutes an intervention, it can never be passive, it is always involved. It alters the nature of reality. This means that the scientific truth of experiments does not define reality but rather a subjective set of relations between humans and that which they are looking at. Reality shifts. We cannot eliminate our own involvement. We cannot escape outside of ourselves to some externalised viewpoint from which to view reality. I behave differently when I am alone. Who am I when I am not watched? When we speak of fundamental nature, we must distinguish between those who are watched and those who are invisible. What would happen if you were to stop looking at me? If a tree falls in the forest on its own does it make a sound? Perhaps I cease to exist when you cease to look at me, I would certainly cease to exist like this. Perhaps we can admit your inseparable involvement within the scene.

This performance lecture has been performed in various iterations: to the camera, to a virtual zoom audience and to a live audience. It is a misreading of complex ideas in physics, moving from special relativity to the observer paradox, and extending those ideas, so that we might apply them to our day to day lives and interpersonal relationships. It applies various strategies to interpret these theories- from academic langauge, to anecdote and even dance- to weave together an intuitive and complex narrative about what these ideas in physics might mean to the embodied, feeling subject.

Watch now on Vimeo.