Observation



There is more than meets the eye in this picture, as it is simultaneously constricted and dilated, yet when observed eye to eye it is nothing more than either or.


Observation is a lenticular print created to explain a fundamental principle of quantum physics.

Mercedes Gemino-Segovia is a PhD physicist from Imperial College helping a team at Bristol University to create a quantum computer. Normal computers use digital bits of information, they can be either one or zero. A quantum computer would instead use quantum bits or ‘qubits’ that can be one and zero at the same time. This is called superposition and would allow all possible solutions to a question to be calculated simultaneously, speeding up the time to decode encryptions and execute search algorithms, making computational devices far more powerful than they currently are.

Although we will harness the power of quantum physics in the future, it is important to realise that it occurs in a world inaccessible to humans. In the case of superposition, when we attempt to observe a qubit being in two states simultaneously, its quantum properties are destroyed and we see it as only one or zero.

Here the medium of a lenticular print has been used to explain these two principals. It is two images at once but presents itself as only either or when it is being observed.

The quantum chip being devised in Bristol uses photons of light as qubits. They can be both horizontally and vertically polarised simultaneously and travel through waveguides much like the fibre optics used in current computing. The lightbox here exploits a similar technology, using a matrix of grooves to channel light and illuminate both the print and the room.

I settled on using a constricted and dilated pupil as the two states of my print for various reasons. Primarily because the work explains the effects of observation on the quantum world, but also because these two states represented resting or excitement and a reaction to the light and the dark; the pupil is an indicator of human emotion and responds to a human's context or environment.

The print uses two photographs of my own eye. To achieve this I used the expertise of an optician and a photographer. David Faulder Opticians administered an eye drop that temporarily paralysed my iris, dilating my pupil for about four hours. I then travelled from the West to the East of London to meet photographer Carl Bigmore. Navigating there was a challenge as I struggled to focus and photons of light bombarded my retina taking advantage of the now enlarged hole in the middle of my eye. When I eventually arrived it was challenging to get a photograph of my eye that had no reflection in it but had used enough light to capture the beauty of the iris. In both these cases, my eye was observed very intensely by another human being and I have become interested in the eye not just as a sensory organ but as an object on the front of our head that we interface with to acquire knowledge and dream.



Collaboration with Mercedes Gimeno-Segovia.
Mark