Science and Philosophy share motifs, metaphors and models with the arts. As well, the level of interaction between the arts, sciences, and technology in the past two decades has been steadily increasing, which can be read as an indicator of the tendency of artists to assume the roles of the Renaissance period, or the first decade of the twentieth century. Perhaps even more telling than the actual mastery of scientific and technologic processes is artists’ greater awareness of the necessity for collaboration with scientists and technologists.
Historically, these sorts of parallelisms between arts and sciences go a long way back, and can be traced in our modern times in the well known cases such as Picasso and Braque coming up with the concept of Cubism, and Einstein with the concept of Relativity, in around the same period. The influence of Henry Poincare’s writing Science and Hypothesis, on the artists of the age, and especially the chapters on the origins of geometry, seem to tell us that the origins of cubism are not completely rooted in the arts. This has been thoroughly researched by Arthur I Miller in Insights of Genius: Imagery and Creativity in Science and Art where he rightly notes that the joint question of both the arts and sciences has been how to interpret the unseen world and go beyond conventional constraints of visual imagery and language to dramatically transform the concepts of visual imagery.
The British artist Lei Cox in his work “Teleportation Experiment” enters into a discourse which has been a popular one among philosophers, scientists, sci-fi writers, and the general public. The basic idea taken by Lei Cox, is that of travel through time and space-travel in which one’s body is dissolved into its sub-atomic form of pure information and reassembled at its destination. Important issues that seem to surface are questions of the understanding of time and space, reality and fiction, as well as of visual imagery and language. Scientists such as Einstein, Podolsky, Rosen, have come up with a “working theory of quantum teleportation”. The famous experiments, such as the “Philadelphia Experiment”, and the role of Nikola Tesla, have sparked the imagination of generations. Art, especially the moving image, has followed a history of involvement with Teleportation (here remember not only Star Trek, but Cronenberg’s The Fly, The Matrix, etc). Their common denominator is that they all depict certain equipment allowing teleportation to happen. By contrast, Lei Cox’s ‘teleportation’ is accomplished without visible use of technology, but by using psychic powers. Lei Cox, the director, has assigned Lei Cox, the actor, to present to us the concept of ‘teleportation’, depicting various dramatic changes endured by the body before disappearing and, subsequently, reappearing on another wall in the gallery. Lei has additionally attempted to avoid the sci-fi and narrative aspects of this theme, which has in turn led him to tackle more directly the concept of teleportation.
What does this mean essentially? Isn’t this claim supported by Quantum Physicists, who tell us that quantum teleportation doesn’t engage in repositioning the object in a different location, but in replicating the original to a different place? It basically copies the original. This theory, sadly, also considers the destruction of the original. So, is it Lei Cox, himself, being transferred to a different location, or is just a perfect copy of Lei Cox being moved to a different time and place, and thus, in return, leading to ‘the death’, and ‘rebirth’ of Lei Cox?
Teleportation? Indeed, are we now close to an understanding of the myth of the Phoenix, the mythical bird that dies, but rises from its own ashes?
- Melentie Pandilovski Born 1963 in Macedonia. Artist, curator. In 1991 graduated from the Faculty of the History of Art with Archeology, St. Cyril and Methodius University, Skopje. monoskop.org/Melentie_Pandilovski