Nibbles – Documentation of an artwork made by a quantum computer

Nibbles is a four screen video with a spoken narrative exploring quantum computing and it's relation to the everyday, the cosmological and the sublime. The work was produced as part of a research project which Libby ran as a tutor at the Royal College of Art in collaboration with the V&A, the University of Bristol and funded by the Institute of Physics.

“There is an inherent, systemic contradiction in this practice: it says both “quantum
phenomena need to be visualized” and “quantum phenomena aren’t amenable to visualization”. However quantum physics images are useful as “free versions of
a rigorous practice, intended to be suggestive and approximate rather than dependable and exact.”

James Elkins, Six Stories from the End of Representation, 2008.

What remains when an art object is completely destroyed when looked at?

Probing entanglements between modern science and the everyday, 'Nibbles - documentation of an artwork made with a quantum computer' responds to this question. ‘Nibbles’ is a four channel film, where viewers can experience the entanglement of images and videos across the four screens, mirroring the process of creating quantum entanglement in a lab.

The video records the process of making a series of quantum entangled artworks with a four qubit quantum computer at the University of Bristol in 2017. These artworks were made from 4 particles of light - 4 photons. Due to the strange laws of quantum physics, which do not permit macroscopic quantum effects, these artworks are destroyed when we tried to 'look' at them.

This video is therefore the documentation of the quantum entangled 4 photon artworks and draws on extensive research into the connections between quantum systems and meaning. Inspired in part by Karen Barad's Agential Reality, the images and videos across the screens follow a spoken narrative that describes the creation and destruction of the previously made quantum entangled artworks. The narrative locates the sublime in the microscopic quantum world and connects this to similar instances in the cosmological and the everyday, entangling scales and times.

The title of the work draws on the technical term for half a byte of data: nibble. A nible is four bits which is all that is left over from the original entangled artworks.

With thanks to the Institute of Physics, the Royal College of Art, the V&A and the University of Bristol for supporting this work.