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Berlin Science Week with Light Art Space

Posted on: October 6th, 2020 by libby


What can quantum science teach us about the way we make sense of our world?

A talk with Berlin-based Light Art Space for Berlin Science Week.

Libby Heaney is a London-based artist, researcher and physicist whose practice connects quantum physics, machine learning and our environment through performance, Virtual Reality and participatory experience. She makes use of new technologies such as artificial intelligence to question the machine's forms of categorisation and expand technology beyond its predominant purpose. On the occasion of Berlin Science Week 2020, Heaney delivers a talk on the uses of quantum computing, its controversies and potential applications in society.

What are quantum computers and how do they depend on quantum physics? Why are corporations and governments interested in quantum computing? What can quantum science teach us about the way we make sense of our world? In what way can the discipline impact how we tell stories, build meaning and create art?

In this lecture, Heaney gives insight into quantum computing and the challenges it holds for the future of making art. Her talk is followed by discussions with philosopher Professor Jenann Ismael and quantum scientist Professor Vlatko Vedral. Together, they will explore the impact quantum physics can have on our day-to-day-reality when transposed from the micro to the macro world.

This talk conveys the core subject matter of a new work being developed by the artist and commissioned by Light Art Space (LAS), for which Heaney uses IBM’s cloud-based Q System One quantum computers. Art can acquire the tools to rupture causality by following the tenets of quantum science, which creates a space where entities – human, non-human, machine – relate, interfere and entangle.

5 Nov 2020, 6 PM
Berlin Science Week 2020

Visions in the Nunnery performance

Posted on: September 13th, 2020 by libby


Ressurection (Top of the Bots) will be presented at Bow Art's Nunnery Gallery on 20th Oct 2020 (outdoors and socially distanced) as part of their biennial Visions in the Nunnery programme.

Resurrection (TOTB) is the second iteration of Libby's Top of the Bots: Karaoke Night participatory performance (Arts Council England funded). During the evening, audience members volunteer to sing and appear and move as the original musician on a screen via live AI algorithms. In between songs, the host Sammy James Britten playfully discusses ideas around power, desire, control and truth with the audience.

Established in 1999, Visions in the Nunnery is a renowned showcase of moving image, digital and performance art, selected from an international open call.

The show offers an informed overview of the provocative and quick-changing mediums of moving image and performance, with works selected from across the world. Over the years Visions has exhibited artists including Oreet Ashery, Tacita Dean, Ori Gersht, Dryden Goodwin, Susan Hiller, Mikhail Karikis, Tina Keane, Lawrence Lek, Uriel Orlow and Heather Phillipson, many at the very early stages of their careers.

Amplify Digital Arts Initiative

Posted on: September 2nd, 2020 by libby


Amplify Digital Arts Initiative new website is now live. Libby participated in the programme at Mutek Montreal in 2019 and was due to present her work with Amplify in Buenos Aires and at Somerset House in 2020 (cancelled due to Covid).

Libby's profile can be viewed here and the full list of supported artists here.

Amplify Digital Arts Initiative connects and empowers an active network of women-identifying artists and professionals working in the digital arts, sound and immersive storytelling sectors in Canada, Latin America and the UK.

Harnessing different cultures and experiences, AMPLIFY D.A.I fosters a platform for dialogue on gender equity and commits resources to career and capacity building activities, peer exchanges and opportunities for cohort participants to showcase their work in the context of dynamic, contemporary festivals, events and residencies.

AMPLIFY D.A.I is an initiative of the British Council in partnership with MUTEK Montréal, MUTEK Buenos Aires and Somerset House Studios in the UK. The programme is supported by Canada Council for the Arts and Fundación Williams.


Libby was awarded an ACE project grant to complete her on going project Figures in Limbo. Figures in Limbo arose from the research undertaken on the Space Art + Tech residency Jan - March 2020.

Figures in Limbo is a timely and important investigation into representations of bodies in machine learning/computer vision. By making connections to visible/neglected bodies in art history, the piece will highlights how cultural/historical biases are now being translated into code. The work looks at the current capitalist context of emerging technologies, comparing it to religious/enlightenment contexts of canonical artworks. The title refers to the central panel in Bosch’s triptych The Last Judgement.

Figures in Limbo takes the form of a partially playable film made in Unity, taking place across 3 scenes: The first shows visible bodies & talks about how biases in depictions of the body in machine learning are similar to those in western art history. The second scene, set in Limbo, examines both visible bodies & neglected ones. The third uses quantum computers to suggest a formless body beyond the illusions of representation.

The funding is to collaborate with musician Barney Kass on the sound track; to write a narrative using AI and surrealist method and to run a workshop discussing biases in AI datasets of bodies and 3D scanning bodies neglected from these datasets for inclusion in the work. The final piece will be presented in Ilford at Space Studios Gallery & on their website in 2021.


Real Time Constraints at Arebyte Gallery

Posted on: July 13th, 2020 by libby


Libby will be presenting her video work Elvis as part of Arebyte Gallery's Real Time Constraints online exhibition.

Taking the form of a browser plug-in, the exhibition reveals itself as a series of pop-ups where the works are disseminated over the duration of a typical working day, interrupting the screen to provide a ‘stopping cue’ from relentless scrolling, email notifications and other computer-centered, interface-driven work.  Real-Time Constraints presents itself as a benevolent invasion - the size, quantity, content and sound of the pop-ups have been decided upon by each artist to feed into the networked performance. The exhibition is experienced through a synchronised global approach where viewers encounter the same pop-ups at the same time no matter where they are, amplifying the exhibition’s disturbance of mundanity across every time zone.  

Real-Time Constraints makes its primary argument through a reconfiguration of the usually annoying and uninvited browser pop-up, turning what is typically a tool of the system (and its owners) into a user-centric 'stopping cue.' Stopping cues were most prevalent in the 20th Century as a way to signal the end of something, the space in between one activity and the next. Stopping cues imposed a choice for the viewer: do you want to continue watching/reading/listening, or do you want to do something else? They also make available the mental space one needs to digest what they've just experienced, enabling useful processing of information, and thus, satisfaction through action. 


There will be an online 'opening' on 23rd July when some of the artists will be present. Libby will also take part in a panel discussion on the 6th Aug when she and other artists will talk about the exhibition, about biases, surveillence and privacy in AI and also about how artist may influence the development of AI technologies.

arebyte Gallery is a London-based art organisation which supports the development of artists working across digital and emerging artforms. 

Following in the long tradition of artists experimentation with new technologies, arebyte Gallery has led a pioneering programme since 2013, to much acclaim. From web-based work to multimedia installations including Virtual and Augmented Reality, Artificial Intelligence, Computer Generated Images and 3D printing, the gallery commissions new works from emerging, as well as more established artists. The gallery supports multiple voices in digital cultures across the UK and internationally to bring innovative perspectives to art through new technologies.



Hervisions at LUX have commissioned Libby for a new site-specifc artwork performed on LUX's Instagram Stories.

touch is response-ability, tuuch os rispunsabilitreaeaeaea is a site-specific interactive animation, where the participants’ touch controls the movement of the frames. Using Instagram stories as a medium Libby Heaney presents two durational performances that invite viewers to activate the animation through the action of touch. Each performance will last for 24 hours on LUX Instagram.

The first and last stills in each performance were created by Heaney based on extensive research into representations of the body in computer vision and artificial intelligence and parallels in art history, highlighting the biases in which bodies are seen and neglected in both. The subsequent frames in the animation were generated by passing the initial frame through a quantum computer, which through entangled pixels, fragments and inverts the image.

In every frame the body from the initial image always exists but the quantum computer enables us to see it from alternative, multiple perspectives – boundary-less and form-less. The stills are watched with a computer vision algorithm – Open-Pose – which loses track of the body as it is released from its encoded shackles.

touch is response-ability, tuuch os rispunsabilitreaeaeaea is part of HERVISIONS’ evolving curatorial digital initiative OUT of TOUCH. Through a constellation of femme-focused dialogues, OUT of TOUCH probes ways in which screen-based dialogues remediate the lack of touching in the absence of physical connection.

LUX is an international arts agency that supports and promotes artists’ moving image practices and the ideas that surround them. The only organisation of its kind in the UK, LUX  represents the country’s only significant collection of artists’ film and video, and is the largest distributor of such work in Europe. LUX works with a large number of major institutions including museums, galleries, festivals and educational establishments, as well as directly with the public and artists.

HERVISIONS is a femme-focussed curatorial agency facilitating online and offline experiences and collaborations with partners to research and produce innovative commissions, exhibitions and events with a strong focus on the intersection of art, technology and culture. Previous exhibitions and partners include, Art Night, Tate Modern, Tate Britain, arebyte Gallery,-D x Chanel, Adidas, Selfridges, Boiler Room, LN-CC, BFI, Gossamer Fog, The London College of Fashion, isthisit?, Mira Festival, LOOM Festival and Google Arts and Culture.

Arts Council Emergency Response Fund Recipient

Posted on: May 26th, 2020 by libby


Libby was a recipient of the Arts Council England Emergency Response Grant. This is intended to provide financial support for artists, creative and freelancers during the early stages of the Covid-19 lockdown in the UK.

For the grant,  Libby will continue researching the creative potential of quantum computers (IBM) to explore important questions around human identity and surveillance capitalism. This will extend her work with AI to a new domain and the outcomes will be presented in a number of exhibitions next year.

Arts Council England are the national development agency for creativity and culture. By 2030 they want England to be a country in which the creativity of each of us is valued and given the chance to flourish and where everyone of us has access to a remarkable range of high quality cultural experiences.


Fleabag and Lady Chatterley’s Tinderbot by The Lowry

Posted on: May 14th, 2020 by libby


Libby's artwork, Lady Chatterley's Tinderbot, is an example of how modern dating can become entangled with old institutions, blogs The Lowry.

Lady Chatterley's Tinderbot explores love in a post-digital age by bringing together humans and non-humans and pre- and post-digital love machines, namely the literary novel and Tinder.

The installation features around 800 anonymized Tinder conversations of both men and women, where, "your personal matchmaker A.I. who understands your "type", and finds them on your favorite dating networks" has conversed with members of the public using dialogue from Lady Chatterley's Lover following its own sentiment analysis and facial recognition algorithms. The conversations probe how human relationships are mediated through digital technologies.

In a series of posts that explore art and ideas around the theme of the famous TV and theatre show Fleabag, the team at The Lowry draw on Lady Chatterley's Tinderbot as a parallel way of questioning modern single life and dating (in Fleabag Waller-Bridge collides with the church).

The full article is available here.

The Lowry is commited visual and performing arts to enrich people’s lives. They present audiences with a diverse programme of theatre, opera, musicals, dance, music, comedy and visual art as well as events and activities to expand the horizons of audiences and artists alike.


The Whole Earth Chanting with RADAR and Nabihah Iqbal

Posted on: March 10th, 2020 by libby


Libby will present a new collaborative work The Whole Earth Chanting with musician Nabihah Iqbal (Ninja Tune) on 28th April in Emmanuel Church in Loughborough. The piece was commissioned by Loughborough University's contemporary art programme Radar and part funded by Arts Council England.

‘The Whole Earth Chanting’ uses the power of voice, sound and music and the intimacy of performance to explore new expressions of belonging and collective identity between humans and non-humans - a post-human spiritualism, entangling human perception with the material world. During the performance, musician Iqbal will respond to chants generated by artificial intelligence, which was trained on data ranging from Gregorian Chanting to the humming of equipment in the quantum physics lab. As religious chants blur with football fans’ singing, birds and Iqbal's voice, the boundaries of categories through which we usually understand the world are dissolved, creating a transcendental journey enabling the ‘other’ to enter and transform.

Artificial intelligence is typically used by big technology companies and governments to categorize and label, in order to sell us things and to control us.  This inevitably embeds societal biases and unequal power structures within the code, putting certain groups at risk of prejudice and people and nature at risk of (even greater) exploitation. The Whole Earth Chanting subverts this use of machine learning.  Rather than separating and dividing, the algorithm creates its own hybrid sounds by weaving together seemingly disparate categories. 

The non-human ‘chants’ in the work were decided upon by finding matches between their spectrogram and a visually similar one for human chanting. The repetition of chanting, mirrors the act of creating a data set for AI - around 2000 copies of an individual chant are needed in order for the machine to learn that sound. 

The artificial intelligence algorithm and Iqbal's voice and instruments, (re)arranges, (dis)orders, (re)combes the material utterances of the human and non-human worlds, such that elements composing and informing what we know and who we are, the script to which the self is subjected, can be broken. 

Chanting moves us outside or beneath the culturally known and activates possibilities of discovering a self that is constituted by a plurality of human and non-human relationships. The reordering and blurring of reality by the artificial intelligence algorithm and Iqbal highlights how boundaries between things are temporary and their differences emerge only through relations.

Theologist Rudolph Otto stated that the breach of ordinary perception occurs through encounters with the numen praesens, the “wholly other” - an object whose nature, transcends the known, breaks the boundaries of the conceivable and provokes in individual or collective encountering it, unique types of emotions. The release of emotion through the repetition of chanting therefore gradually disentangles the audience from the cultural scripts they usually perform.

Through emotion and identification with both human and non-human voices through the ritual of chanting, engagements and actions to embrace the “wholly other” are made.

Shifting Screens symposium Arnolfini, Bristol

Posted on: February 15th, 2020 by libby


Libby gave a talk about her artistic research with machine learning and moving image at the Arnolfini on Tuesday 11th Feb.

The symposium was organised by the University of West England's School of Art and Design, where Libby also ran a deepfake workshop earlier in the day.