Building on the transdisciplinary work of particle physicist and feminist theorist Karen Barad, Collocations is a work of experimental writing that explores the disruptive implications of quantum mechanics for science, philosophy, literature and the arts. Designed for tablet computers, Collocations employs strategies of palimpsest, visual poetry, and algorithmically defined systems to produce a work of innumerable poetic texts. Interaction with the work transforms the user into an experimenter whose observation and physical manipulation of the device determines the materialization of any possible number of unique textual configurations in a dynamic, non-linear and kinesthetic reading experience.
Collocations appropriates two key texts from Niels Bohr and Albert Einstein’s historic debates about the complementary relationship between position and momentum on the one hand, and determinacy and indeterminacy on the other. In quantum mechanics, that relationship is mediated by an experimental apparatus through which the experimenter observes the phenomenon in question. In Collocations, the tablet computer is that experimental apparatus, and the user’s manipulation of its position in space allows certain poetic texts to emerge at the expense of others. As the user moves the device, certain words from within Bohr and Einstein’s original texts begin to vibrate, becoming highlighted and forming poetic subtexts. Striking a delicate balance between completely predetermined and randomly generated texts, these poems embody the fundamental indeterminacy of matter. At the intersection of science, art, language and code, Collocations posits a new quantum poetics that disrupts classical notions of textuality and offers new possibilities for reading.