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As part of the Early Career Research Talks series, Conor McKeown will discuss his ongoing research project “Quantum Queerness”, currently modestly supported by the AHRI in King’s. The main objective of QQ is to foster an intimate relationship with our other multiple quantum selves. Using a cultural analytics approach I aim to make a series of praxis-lead durational pieces and subsequent visualisations that combine computer programming, videogame design and videogame play as a reaction to the work of science philosophers Karen Barad and David Deutsch. Above all, however, the works are filtered through a queer method suggested by Halberstam: that of failure. Halberstam writes, “under certain circumstances failing, losing, forgetting, unmaking, undoing, unbecoming, not knowing may in fact offer more creative, more cooperative, more surprising ways of being in the world”. My experiments and their goal are doomed to failure. They are haunted by the fact that an intimate relationship with our ‘other multiple quantum selves’ is not possible. What’s more, it is their separation from us, their ‘cutting’ away from us through apparent and transitory material becoming (and necessary unbecoming) that allows our apparent sense of self to coalesce.

The talk will unpack the three experiments that make up the project. The first experiment is a live stream through Twitch – a platform popular for videogaming – of my attempts to create a ‘Bell State’ using the programming language Q#. This live stream – and recordings of it – aim to infuse a dive into the world of quantum computing with emotion and consequence. The second experiment is an attempt to build a small ‘game’ or interactive program that models an idea of self and selves as I have understood it within Deustch’s description of a multiverse. It is, however, ultimately doomed to fail as it is made within finite constraints. The final experiment, currently underway in King’s, is a visualisation of multiple different playthroughs of the game Gone Home (Fullbright, 2013). An installation of the game is set up in a locked room and players are invited to play the game for as long as they wish, engaging with the story of Sam Greenbriar and her difficult childhood. As they play, their gameplay footage is recorded and catalogued. At the end of the project, this footage will be combined into one long video that shows the many divergent paths – and implicit failures therein – of the various players, along with the eventual cessation of instability and uncertainty into one, apparent, concrete self. Above all, these works aim to show how we should embrace failure in our attempts to grapple with the difficult or impossible to visualise or describe in search of rewards outside of the realms of traditional success.

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Date and time

Tue 29 January 2019
14:00-16:00 GMT

Location

1.12 Franklin-Wilkins Building
Waterloo Campus
Stamford St
London
SE1 9NH

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