A passage to parallel worlds

Now that the Melbourne Fringe Festival is over for another year, why not take an overdue look at the 2016 festival? For something different, I put together an interactive art installation called “A passage to parallel worlds”.

Based on a prototype event in bushland at A Centre for Everything, this version was held at the Abbotsford Convent Industrial School (formerly home of Shadow Electric).

After listening to a recorded introduction on walkmans (yes, walkmans – or is it walkmen?), participants followed a choose-your-own-adventure style story of the life of physicist Craig Lemming, as he encounters various concepts of multiple universes. These included parallel realities in higher dimensions, the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, and identical copies of Earth repeated in an infinite cosmos.

Although the event was held in an out-of-the-way location far from the rest of the Fringe Festival, on AFL Grand Final Day (a mistake in retrospect), it turned out pretty good.

The highlight was being runner-up in the Best Live Art category at the 2016 Melbourne Fringe Awards. Yes, there were only two nominees, but it still counts.

The story was told through a series of stations representing each alternative event in the life of Craig Lemming, suspended from the roof of the Abbotsford Convent’s old Industrial School.
At each station, a text card explained what was happening at that point in the story, and the choices to get to the next point.
Participants each had their own ball of yarn, to thread through each point so their choices were made visible.
Some stations involved a random element, to represent the unpredictability of quantum mechanics.
Each participant worked through the story on their own, creating a web of intersecting and diverging timelines.
It’s important to choose carefully, as the timelines can get quite tangled.
The friendly guide, Dr Craig Lemming himself, helped people through and explained the real physics behind the parallel worlds.
The result was a delicate and strangely beautiful map of the multiverse. It was fascinating to see which were the popular choices and which were the paths least travelled.

(Photography by Image Workshop)


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