Courtesy of Johannes DeYoung

Karen Barad, a visiting professor from University of Santa Cruz, will speak at a talk titled “Spooky Objects” on Wednesday. 

Barad, a philosopher and physicist, published their book “Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning” in 2007. Their talk will expand on the ideas laid out in the book, which cover their interpretation of Neil Bohr’s double slit experiment. 

The talk is co-hosted by Yale’s Center for Collaborative Arts and Media and Yale Quantum Institute.

In preparation for the talk, CCAM Director and Lecturer in the School of Architecture Dana Karwas, will showcase a physical model of the double slit experiment in order to help audience members understand Barad’s lecture. 

As part of Karwas’ “The Mechanical Eye” class at the School of Architecture, Karwas’ Teaching Fellow, Sewon Roy Kim ARCH ’23, and Teaching Assistant Wai Hin Wong ARCH ’24 were tasked with designing and manufacturing two custom-made Niels Bohr double-slit experiment objects based on Barad’s model.

Barad’s interpretation of the double slit experiment corresponds with the concept of measurement covered in Karwas’ class. Barad presents the notion that the measurement of objects is inseparable from the objects measured. 

“The measurement is a limited way of understanding the universe,” Wong explained.

 Measurement is inherently subject to subjectivity when the observer quantifies a system to frame into a mathematical framework. The idea of measurement is where architecture overlaps with physics in the project. 

The project, from proposal to construction, took two weeks to complete. Kim views their final product “as an ontological theater, or a proscenium.” 

“The design is not a proposal or a solution.” Kim said. “It’s an amplified depiction of Karen’s ideas rendered as a space. We want to blur the pre-established entities of this event. Audience, presenters, and the double-slit apparatus will interact as ‘casual enactments.’” 

The final project will be presented [at the talk] in the form of an 18 X 13 inch all-aluminum briefcase, “James Bond style,” according to Kim.  

Florian Carle, director of the Yale Quantum Institute, hopes that the experimental suitcase will enhance the “fun aspect” of Barad’s demonstration.

 “The point is to bring the talk out of the science experiment,” said Carle, “All the physics students know about it, it’s like physics 101.” 

By bringing in CCAM, the school of architecture and the design aspect of the experiment, the project will introduce quantum physics to more of the Yale community. Kim explained that their design will contribute to Barad’s talk by allowing viewers to be “inside” the book. 

Kim emphasized the concept of intra-action — “a term used to replace interaction, which necessitates pre-established bodies that then participate in action with each other.” The idea of intra-action resonates in the goal of the CCAM and this project.

“CCAM always sits between architecture and technology,” Wong said. “The suitcase is also in between.” 

Instead of reproducing lab equipment, the designers are seeking to make an art piece that transcends limitations and combines disciplines. 

Wong added that Barad’s basic theory of intra-action adds a new understanding of creating space for architects.

“Everything is part of a network,” Wong said. “When you have a key, you cannot just have a key, you need a lock. A lock needs a door or a cabinet. A unit implies the entire building. Every individual building implies an entire network.”

The CCAM is “a liminal space on campus where architects, artists, thinkers, and engineers constantly intra-act,” said Kim. “Our action as the “particle” architect is geared towards amplifying our intra-disciplinary dialogues to be entangled as a space.” 

CCAM is located at 149 York St.

A previous version of this article stated that Sewon Roy Kim was Wai Hin Wong’s Teaching Fellow. In fact, he is Dana Karwas’ Teaching Fellow. 

HANNAH KOTLER