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Libby Heaney, Q is for Climate, courtesy of NXT MuseumLibby Heaney, Q is for Climate, courtesy of NXT Museum
Libby Heaney, Q is for Climate, 2023, courtesy of NXT MuseumLibby Heaney, Q is for Climate, 2023, courtesy of NXT Museum

Installation: ‘Realtime’, NXT Museum, Amsterdam, May 15th – September 24th 2023. Courtesy of NXT Museum.  

Can we learn to think and feel like the climate itself?

Q is for Climate (?), 2023, single channel video with sound, 7min38.

Q is for Climate (?) is a single channel video work with sound, where ghostly tentacled creatures, lush forested environments, intersect with barren, mined landscapes, smoke & fumes, oil spills and toxic lithium extraction lakes. 

Based on in-depth academic research as well as interviews with scientists and directors of quantum computing companies, it questions how the power of future quantum computers will impact the climate crisis.  Quantum computers are a powerful new tool being intensely pursued by big tech for their vast computational power. The work also leans on Heaney’s own speculations around the overlooked radical potential of quantum computing: its ability to reimagine natural and social systems & perspectives through the lens of non-binary and nonlocal quantum entanglement.

The current development of quantum computing by Big Tech (such as IBM, Honeywell, PsiQuantum) seeks to harness quantum computing power to further entrench our regime of extractive capitalism, including working with oil companies to expedite drilling, or helping develop a new generation of lithium batteries.

Q is for Climate (?) suggests a different route, encapsulating a myriad of human and non-human perspectives, ghostly glitches, and a quest for an idyllic environment. Starting off with a linear narrative where different viewpoints appear one after the other – sequentially, mirroring how information is processed on a digital computer, but also how time is seen from a renaissance & modernist perspective – the film progresses to a layered, entangled approach. Heaney uses self-written quantum computing code to generatively edit the videos, where all times and possibilities exist at once.

Can the inherent plurality of quantum physics help us to think like the climate itself, holding multiple affects and entanglements at the same time?

By embracing all possibilities, even the destructive ones, can we learn to (as Donna Haraway puts it) “live with the trouble” and create new relations and unexpected collaborations necessary to find a way through the present degradation of the earth and its systems?

Installation: ‘Energeia’, Etiopia, Zaragoza (commission), March 2nd – June 17th 2023. Photo: Pedro Anguila.