Week 5 Response: Art As a Representation of Process

Quantum Realism is a series of art works made by Iraqi artist, Mahmoud Sabri (1927-2012). Instead of focusing on the representation of objects, Sabri focused on the processes of things.Sabri used oil on various sizes of canvases to represent and demonstrate the interrelationship between art and science, especially in quantum physics. The use of different colors and lines represent different atoms and their relationship with spectral lines, energy levels and electrons. His two key concepts of Quantum Realism are:

1.      That the world should be conceived as a system of processes rather than     a  system of objects/things.

2.      That mass and energy  are interchangeable as formulated by Einstein in  his equation   E = MC2.

h atom phase one Furthermore, he had three different phases in terms of producing the art works of Quantum Realism. He “started with the chemical processes through which macroscopic phenomena are formed by the interactions/combinations of different atoms” focused on the structure of molecules in the first phase. In the next phase, he switched from molecular to atomic structure. He included both visible spectral linesh atom phate two, appeared in phase one, and invisible spectral lines, not shown in phase one. Thus, he changed his drawings to “black on white drawings.” However, he encountered two problems, artistic and scientific. Due to the change of focus on the structures, he had to create a new method to accurately represent and visualize atomic-quantum phenomena. Moreover, visualizing scientific theories and facts became controversial as scientists discovered and learned more about different scientific facts. Thus, he changed the visualization of the structure of atoms and worked with scientists in order to produce drawings based on accurate scientific informations. In the last phase, he moved onto the structure of electh atom phase threerons. Thus, he included not only atom, a system of electrons, but also electron itself, a system of wave functions and energy levels. Throughout the times, he increased the details on the scientific facts on his artworks, which he concluded that “the synthesis led finally,…, to a graphic/artistic solution depicting the world as a system or as a structure of energy units corresponding to specific spectral wavelengths,  and based on  a new conception of the velocity of light(c).”

Sabri brought science and art together into his drawings and paintings. He showed that artists could go beyond their imaginations to represent realities in the scientific world through their artworks. In this case, quantum physics became a media of his artwork. However, arguably, we could also suggest that his artworks became a representation of quantum mechanics. His artworks raise attention to the society that art and science are no longer isolated from each other; instead, they can represent each other through the work of artists or scientists. People see Sabri’s drawings as not only artistic but also scientific works because they are both artistically beautifully on visuals and scientifically accurate on quantum phenomenon. Therefore, artists, like Sabri, proved that art and science are closely related and that art and science can grow from each other.


-Annie Ho


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