Schrödinger's Rat - 2020 BRC Honoraria Recipient

Schrödinger's Rat is an interactive art sculpture, inspired by Schrödinger's Cat - the original thought experiment by Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger.  A cat is sitting on a large triangular box, staring at the quantum world inside, while the citizen entering the box is turned into a lab rat, the cat’s uncanny prey.  This experiment encourages the citizens of Black Rock City to shape reality through various states and perspectives.

Honored to be the recipient of a Black Rock City Honoraria Grant in 2020

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Physical Description: 

A triangular room with a humongous cat on top. It is Schrödinger's cat and - in a reversal of the original thought experiment - we are Schrödinger's rat. We follow a narrow corridor to a door. We enter the room into a world of uncertainty where our known rules no longer apply. We experience a confusingly distorted visual reality: fragmented objects scattered randomly throughout space warp our sense of orientation. We fail to make sense of it all. However, a radically different experience awaits us outside. Through optical illusions, the broken reality inside is pieced together coherently for the observer. Three spyholes offer us three different meaningful perspectives on the inside world. The first two perspectives overlap into a third perspective, the cat’s view. 


We want to turn a famous thought experiment - Schrödinger's cat - upside down. Quantum mechanics describes phenomena in the microcosm that seemingly cannot co-exist with the laws of our real, macroscopic world. This fact, however, opens up the door to imagination and creativity - the realm of art. The visitor turns into a lab rat and becomes part of an experiment in which s/he is both subject and object at the same time. As any lab rat, the visitor cannot decide the final outcome, which is determined by the observer’s perspective outside. The cat is the ultimate observer and exemplifies human curiosity, the thirst for knowledge, but also cold scientific cruelty turned into predatory dominance. It plays with us and we play along. We have no choice. As a collaborative effort between Austrian and Californian burners, this installation is also a perfect example of transatlantic + transburner cultural relations, which is why it is important to us to show the art work in Austria afterwards.

Das Amt

Das Amt is the literal manifestation of our bureaucratic utopia: an octagonal maze with an enigmatic, animated machine at its heart. You, as the petitioner, have to overcome various insurmountable hurdles, inducing your metamorphosis. At the maze's center, your utmost truth will be revealed.

The octagonal maze is formed by five spiraling rings, rising up to monumental heights. Different paths are leading to its center. Prefabricated cardboard/reboard modules are interlocked with each other, guaranteeing maximum stability while simultaneously allowing for a quick and precise assembly. On their journey through the maze, the petitioners encounter various stations that will provide guidance. At night, an interactive light installation will breathe life into the walls. Motion-triggered by the petitioner's entering of the maze, enigmatic quotes by Kafka and precise instructions by Das Amt will illuminate the walls from within. The words will fade after some time, until being revived by the next petitioner. The final encounter will be with the machine.