Diemut Strebe’s Technologically Advanced Thought Experiments
The Ship of Theseus—an ancient thought experiment otherwise known as the Theseus paradox—was first recorded by Plutarch in the late first century. The intellectual puzzle asks whether an object, in this case a ship, is fundamentally the same if every one of its parts is replaced. This past month, the Dutch artist Ronald Feldman Fine Arts in “Free Radicals: Sugababe, and Other Works.”
The show featured Strebe’s best-known work, Sugababe (2014), an intriguing living recreation of legendary artist
Strebe has said she is interested in bringing cutting-edge technologies like these to the art world “because science has so much creativity and inspiring processes, which I love to involve in my work.” Some of her other works bring together literary devices with novel scientific processes. For The Scent of Joseph Beuys (2015), a tribute to the Beuys’s seminal 1974 performance I Like America and America Likes Me—in which Beuys lived for three days with a wild coyote in a New York gallery for eight hours a day—Strebe collaborated with perfume scientists to recreate the scent of “Gallery,” as well as “Felt” and “Wall Street Journals”—two materials he used in his performance. The scents were modeled partially on data taken from olfactory molecules.
In another quite complicated piece, Wigner’s Friends (2014-15), Strebe collaborated with MIT, NASA/ESA. The piece is named after a quantum science thought experiment that evolved out of the famous Schrödinger's Cat conundrum. Here, Stebe plays with notions of quantum correlation and quantum measurement. She placed one tiny telescope on Earth and gave another to an astronaut to take up to space. The telescopes were quantum mechanically correlated to show images of “all the art ever made” it its digital display. Documentation from that experiment, including 3D printed PVP models of the concepts invoked, are on display at the gallery.
“Free Radicals: Sugababe and Other Works” was shown at Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, New York, Nov. 7–Dec. 5, 2015.