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Evelina Dominitch & Dmitry Gelfand
A laser-cooled atom observatory probing the slippery frontier between quantum and quotidian reality.
Evelina Dominitch & Dmitry Gelfand

Dmitry Gelfand (b.1974, St. Petersburg, Russia) and Evelina Domnitch (b. 1972, Minsk, Belarus) create sensory immersion environments that merge physics, chemistry and computer science with uncanny philosophical practices.  Having dismissed the use of recording and fixative media, the duo's installations and performances comprise ever-transforming phenomena offered for observation. Because these rarely seen phenomena take place directly in front of the observer without being intermediated, they often serve to vastly extend one’s sensorial thresholds. Domnitch and Gelfand are recipients of the Japan Media Arts Excellence Prize (2007), and five Ars Electronica Honorary Mentions (2007, 2009, 2011,2013, and 2017).

Atom Chasm

Although the originators of quantum theory were convinced that perceiving, let alone manipulating individual atoms would forever remain a mere thought experiment, their conclusions were decisively inverted by the invention of the laser-cooled ion trap. Not only did it enable the first observations of a single atom’s quantum behaviour, it is currently paving the way towards quantum computing and exotic physics beyond the Standard Model.

In collaboration with the 5th Physical Institute of Stuttgart University, the artists propose to develop Atom Chasm, a laser-cooled atom observatory probing the slippery frontier between quantum and quotidian reality.  The first artwork to ever be presented on the atomic scale, Atom Chasm will be an immersive ion trap installation, enabling audiences to intimately confront such paradoxical phenomena as quantum jumps and the symmetry breaking of the early universe.  These confrontations will prompt a wealth of philosophical questions as to the nature and provenance of matter, as well as to the limits of human knowledge.

ArtAtom

Single trapped atoms can only be admired in modern research labs inaccessible to the public. Besides the Dalai Lama, only a few hundred people have had a chance to experience the fluorescence of a single ion (a charged atom) through a microscope. Nevertheless, the brightness of such an ion is comparable to that of the North Star, which can clearly be seen without any tools. The task is now to develop an imaging system and an adequate environment that will enable viewers to see a single atom in free space. A lattice of trapped atoms can also be made visible, undergoing quantum jumps from bright to dark states – one of the most peculiar features of quantum physics. In detail, the researchers will develop a free-ranging imaging system that will enable viewers, traversing an immersive environment, to witness single atoms afloat in an ion trap.

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Atom Chasm
Evelina Dominitch & Dmitry Gelfand
A laser-cooled atom observatory probing the slippery frontier between quantum and quotidian reality.
laserquantumlaser-coolingquantum opticsphysics
The artwork

Although the originators of quantum theory were convinced that perceiving, let alone manipulating individual atoms would forever remain a mere thought experiment, their conclusions were decisively inverted by the invention of the laser-cooled ion trap. Not only did it enable the first observations of a single atom’s quantum behaviour, it is currently paving the way towards quantum computing and exotic physics beyond the Standard Model.

In collaboration with the 5th Physical Institute of Stuttgart University, the artists propose to develop Atom Chasm, a laser-cooled atom observatory probing the slippery frontier between quantum and quotidian reality.  The first artwork to ever be presented on the atomic scale, Atom Chasm will be an immersive ion trap installation, enabling audiences to intimately confront such paradoxical phenomena as quantum jumps and the symmetry breaking of the early universe.  These confrontations will prompt a wealth of philosophical questions as to the nature and provenance of matter, as well as to the limits of human knowledge.

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About the artist
Evelina Dominitch & Dmitry Gelfand

Dmitry Gelfand (b.1974, St. Petersburg, Russia) and Evelina Domnitch (b. 1972, Minsk, Belarus) create sensory immersion environments that merge physics, chemistry and computer science with uncanny philosophical practices.  Having dismissed the use of recording and fixative media, the duo's installations and performances comprise ever-transforming phenomena offered for observation. Because these rarely seen phenomena take place directly in front of the observer without being intermediated, they often serve to vastly extend one’s sensorial thresholds. Domnitch and Gelfand are recipients of the Japan Media Arts Excellence Prize (2007), and five Ars Electronica Honorary Mentions (2007, 2009, 2011,2013, and 2017).

The technology
Atom Chasm

A laser-cooled atom observatory probing the slippery frontier between quantum and quotidian reality.

About the residency

Single trapped atoms can only be admired in modern research labs inaccessible to the public. Besides the Dalai Lama, only a few hundred people have had a chance to experience the fluorescence of a single ion (a charged atom) through a microscope. Nevertheless, the brightness of such an ion is comparable to that of the North Star, which can clearly be seen without any tools. The task is now to develop an imaging system and an adequate environment that will enable viewers to see a single atom in free space. A lattice of trapped atoms can also be made visible, undergoing quantum jumps from bright to dark states – one of the most peculiar features of quantum physics. In detail, the researchers will develop a free-ranging imaging system that will enable viewers, traversing an immersive environment, to witness single atoms afloat in an ion trap.