Schrödinger's Rat - 2020 BRC Honoraria Recipient

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

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OPEN CALL FOR AUSTRIAN MEDIA ARTISTS 

Immersive Experience Design for Schrödinger’s Rat at Ars Electronica 2021, Exposure 2021, and Burning Man 2022

The Open Austria Art + Tech Lab in Silicon Valley in partnership with Ars Electronica is launching an open call for Austrian media artists to design an immersive experience for Schrödinger’s Rat, the first Austrian artwork to win a Burning Man Black Rock City Honoraria Grant. Due to the disruptive nature of the pandemic, Schrödinger’s Rat will be premiered at the Ars Electronica Festival in Linz (AT) between September 8-12, 2021, shipped to San Francisco (US) for The Grid: Exposure - Art + Tech + Policy Summit in November 2021, and showcased at Burning Man in Nevada (US) in September 2022.

Schrödinger's Rat  is an interactive art sculpture, inspired by the quantum mechanical model by Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger. The artwork was conceived by the Austro/Californian art collective The Department of Precision and Soul (DPS) in the context of the ‘Multiverse theme’ of Burning Man 2020. The physical structure was designed and constructed by Austrian designer and architect Philipp Blume, lead artist of DPS and Schrödinger’s Rat. The selected media artist/s will collaborate with the lead artist on the design and implementation of the immersive experience design for the inside of the physical sculpture.

Quantum mechanics describes phenomena in the microcosm that seemingly cannot coexist with the laws of the macroscopic world. In 1935, Erwin Schrödinger formulated the scenario of a closed box containing a cat and an unstable atomic nucleus, which has a certain probability of emitting radiation within a certain period of time. Using a Geiger counter, the radiation triggers the release of poisonous gas, which would kill the cat. Schrödinger argues that, if quantum physics were also applicable to macroscopic systems and not only the atomic nucleus, the cat would have to get into a state of superposition. This quantum state would not stop until someone opened the box and checked the cat's condition. The measurement determines if the cat is “dead” or “alive”. Until then, the cat would be alive and dead at the same time. This paradox in modern physics invites artistic experimentation.

In a reversal of the original thought experiment by Erwin Schrödinger, a large cat is sitting on a triangular box staring at the both-and quantum world inside the structure. The box is accessible through a door and can contain up to two participants at a time, while they endure everchanging quantum states as Schrödinger’s Rat, the cat’s uncanny prey. The participant of the interactive sculpture becomes part of an experiment in which they are simultaneously subject and object. As Schrödinger’s Rat, the participant cannot decide the final outcome of the experiment. The quantum state is controlled by the cat as the outside observer. Observation imposes its reality on the objects inside.

The immersive experience design of the sculpture’s inside is the subject of this open call and must fulfill the following artistic criteria, as well as align with the following principles:

  • Artistic excellence in media art and immersive experience design

  • Aligning with the multiverse theme of Schrödinger’s Rat and capturing the quantum mechanical model described in Schrödinger’s original thought experiment

  • Aligning with the Burning Man ethos outlined in the 10 principles

  • Creating an interactive space for one or two participants

  • Outside sculpture and inside immersive experience have to interact

  • Artistic Inquiry: How can reality be determined by observation? How can quantum physics be applied to macroscopic systems? How can something be ‘dead’ and ‘alive’ at the same time?

Submission criteria:

  • One or more Austrian artist/s working with new/digital media (Austrian or Austrian resident)

  • Application deadline: July 8

  • Approximately 2 months for project execution: July 9 - September 8

  • Artwork premiers at Ars Electronica in Linz (AT) between Sept 8-12

  • Prize money 10,000 EUR (includes all taxes and costs related to the execution and implementation of the artwork: production, artist honorarium, equipment rental, transportation inside of AT, etc.)


What to submit:

  • Project idea described in text and images for an immersive experience design of the inside space to Schrödinger’s Rat

  • Detailed Budget allocation of the 10,000 EUR

  • CV, showreel, and/or website of all applicants


For application submissions and more information:

Clara Blume, Head of Open Austria Art + Tech Lab, clara@open-austria.com 


This open call by the Open Austria Art + Tech Lab is supported by the Austrian Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs.


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.