Within particle physics, The Unified Field Theory is a model which seeks to merge the three forces (electromagnetic, weak and strong interactions) in the standard model into one force. Unifying gravity with the three interactions would provide 'a theory of everything' rather than a unified field theory, nevertheless, this is considered a step towards the theory of everything.
Graham Harman, the American philosopher who is one of the important figures within object-oriented-ontology and speculative realism, though argue that we must include fiction in the attempt for a theory of everything, otherwise we would not cover everything (Graham 2018). I would also claim that we need to cover intuition and imagination as well. The things we cannot perceive or describe. I am not looking for a God or the divine, but it seems to me that all religions and all academic disciplines are meeting this phenomenon that we do not have words for or can explain.
When I was a kid, perhaps 6 or 7 years old, I was lying in the tall grass at the field across my house in Skive - a small town in Denmark - and I had this intuitive feeling or sensation that everything was connected. I just didn't know how. Well, I also thought that I was an angel who was chosen by some divine force to rescue everyone from misery(!) but while I left this idea in my childhood with my imaginary friends, the feeling of connection and the curiosity to discover how everything is entangled stayed with me to this day. I have no background in natural science, in fact, those subjects was a hell in primary school and I was longing for the day I could escape these classes. My rational and logical thinking has never been good, and I spent a lot of time feeling stupid and still do to some extent. So it is quite ironic that I am now when studying at an art academy where I can do whatever I want, reading and contacting professors within natural science. But these fields are of course crucial in the attempt to discover the connections that unify everything. The quantum field theory pushes our classical understanding of the world we live in - ourselves as human beings and our relation to all matter. When the building blocks of every existence act in mysterious ways: both as particles and waves, entangled through thousands of miles - our reality is a reality of endless possibilities: “Ontological indeterminacy, a radical openness, an infinity of possibilities, is at the core of mattering” (Barad, 2012).
AN ATTEMPT TO CATEGORIZE
In my seek to unify theories I am, at the moment, working on a sound installation based on interviews with researchers within natural science as well as humanities. The interviews have been sound recorded and will be playing from separate speakers in a black room (I will elaborate the project further when it is done) to make the researchers speak together although they never met. I tried to categorize the content and overlaps to be able to make connections in my editing, but this showed out to be much more complex than expected. The fluid themes I ended up with, though, are time, change/movement, beings, nothingness, sense/nonsense and communication.
Elisabeth Grosz, the Australian philosopher argues in her book "Time Travels: Feminism, Nature, Power" from 2005, we need to rethink time and duration to be able to understand the structures of our world. Time seems to be a phenomenon present in all subjects. It is a mystery and a problem within physics, it seems to only exist as a human concept. As Truls Wyller, the philosopher I interviewed for the project, claims, the time collapses to a point when we are dead. There is no past and future, it is just a frozen world. He mentions the fear of death for the same reason. Because when we die we are nothing.
...And already now, when I try to separate time into a section, I feel a frustration of the impossibility of it. I already want to write about O although it doesn´t let itself be exposed into the literal language. I guess this is also one of the reasons I ended up on an art academy (after finishing my theoretical bachelor in Aesthetics and Culture at Aarhus University) because through art I can communicate without using words. Through art, I can transfer sensations into something physical and observable.
The choreographer and professor in
On the edge of existence..
/nothingness /quantum mechanics
“Ontological indeterminacy, a radical openness, an infinity of possibilities, is at the core of mattering.” (Barad, 2012) The quantum field theory (a theory that combines the insights of electromagnetism, special relativity and quantum mechanics) pushes our classical understanding of the world we live in. When the building blocks of every existence act in mysterious ways: both as particles and waves, entangled through thousands of miles - our reality is a reality of endless possibilities. But how should we then understand ourselves, nature, technology and things - and the relation between them?
American-British physicist Dana Zohar stresses that we are both “individuals with a distinct and separate identity and co-creative partners in defining relationships with others” (Zohar 2013). We can no longer understand things as separate and independent elements. Even what we call inanimate things, Ian Hodder states, "have charges, weights. They are attracted to each other or repulse each other.” (Hodder 2012) Even particles seem to have a life on their own: “an electron is not just "itself" but includes a "cloud" of an indeterminate number of virtual particles. (...) So even the smallest bits of matter is an enormous multitude. Each "individual" is made up of all possible histories of virtual intra-actions with all Others” (Barad, 2012).
Karen Barad describes the quantum vacuum, or the void, as a “spectral realm with a ghostly existence” (Barad 2012). Barad argues that in the void “exists” quantum fluctuations, which scientists describe as virtual particles. Virtuality she defines as the “indeterminacy of being/nonbeing, a ghostly non/existence” So the void is not empty, but there isn't anything in there either. Virtual particles are “ghostly non/existences that teeter on the edge of an infinitely thin blade between being and nonbeing”(Ibid)
The term "virtual particles" though is, according to particle physicist Michael Kachelriess only a term to communicate, it´s fiction and not observable by definition.
Barad, Karen: “What Is the Measure of Nothingness? Infinity, Virtuality, Justice” in 100 Notes- 100 Thoughts, Documenta und Museum Fridericianum Veranstaltungs-GmbH 2012
"Matter feels, converses, suffers, desires,
yearns and remembers” Interview with Karen Barad in Science, Technology, and the Humanities: A New Synthesis, 2009
Genz, Henning: Nothingness - The Science of Empty Space, Perseus Books Publishing 1999
Hodder, Ian: Entangled - An Archeology of the Relationships between Human and Things, John Wiley and Sons, 2012
Zohar, Danah: “The Quantum Self” in Art and Common Space, Kunstakademiet i Trondheim, NTNU, Trondheim 2013
Darkness and light
Darkness is related to our desire of returning to our primary state as inanimate beings.
Rasmus Jaksland (physics + philosophy)
The first interview was with Rasmus Jaksland, PhD fellow in Philosophy in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies. He works on a project titled "The Prospects of Naturalized Metaphysics", where he investigates the role of science - physics in particularly - in metaphysics, and attempt to assess to what degree metaphysics should be informed by and founded in science.
The interview was based on his article "Entanglement as the world-making Relation" in which he draws on theories of quantum mechanics and minimalist ontology.
"Conference" (working title) is an upcoming sound installation based on recorded interviews with researchers from different disciplines at NTNU (Norwegian University of Science & Technology, Trondheim). I will interview researchers within physics, chemistry, philosophy, biology, computer science, linguistics, psychology and anthropology. The aim is to examine how I, as an artist, can contribute to "a theory of everything" and how (or if) art can function as the nonverbal communication that interconnects the disciplines and perhaps raises new questions, impossible to ask within the specific field. By deconstructing the recorded interviews, in the sound editing, I will point out specific statements, remove them from their context, and combine them with statements or questions from the other researchers. Thereby, my aim is to create a fictive conversation, or discussion, between researchers that never met.
The problem with interdisciplinary projects, I think, is the fact that there is no common language for communication between the different fields. But to reach new groundbreaking worldviews, and to make the right political and environmental choices, we need to reconsider the concept of Nature - and we need to do that together. We need to examine nature, ourselves, technology etc, with an open and naïve approach, where nothing is certain or finite. Therefore I hope that the fictive conversation - and the unification of distant statements, normally not combined, will foster new questions, or at least some tensions for rethinking.
It is worth noting that I have no background in natural sciences - only a newly discovered curiosity - but maybe this naïvity, or lack of knowledge, is actually to the project´s benefit.