Quantum cloud

By David Peat February 24, 2014

Science had broken down the world to the point where quantum theory could discuss the smallest particles of matter—the elementary particles. But in what domain did these particles exist? If matter could be broken down, what about space and time? Did there exist something below space, something out of which space itself was formed? Bohm believed there was and called this pre-space. With his colleague, Basil Hiley, he looked to create a theory of pre-space. Pre-space itself would be built out of what are called non-commuting algebras.

In 2000 I held a meeting of artists and scientists in the October gallery, London. The meeting was informal with no fixed agenda, just the opportunity for people to meet and gather in small groups to talk. One afternoon Basil Hiley and I were talking about pre-space when the sculptor, Antony Gormley, joined us. Gormley was very interested in space as much of his work dealt with the inner space of the body. For a time he listened to us and then asked when we meant by algebra. We told him that the famous mathematician, David Hilbert, called it a “relation of relationships.” Gormley liked this.

Back in his studio Gormley began work on a piece he was going to call Quantum Cloud. It consisted of a large number of straight metal rods, welded together. At first sight the sculpture looks like a jumble but, viewed from a certain angle, it has the appearance of a human figure.