Steve Rowell


Quantum Danube

2011


An unrealized landscape marking / commemorative monument project from a realized visiting artist fellowship at the University of Applied Arts, Vienna, Austria. The inspiration for this project and series of workshops and tours was the first real-world quantum teleportation experiment in 2004 across (beneath and above) the Danube River in a semi-industrial area of Southern Vienna.




This monument, the Twin Monoliths, commemorates the first successfu real-world quantum teleportation outside of a laboratory, conducte in 2004 by the department head of the Institute for Experimental Physics – University of Vienna, Dr. Anton Zeilinger along with his group: Rupert Ursin, Thomas Jennewein, Marku Aspelmeyer, Rainer Kaltenbaek, Michael Lindenthal, a

nd Philip Walther.

The megaliths are identical in design and size, but inverted in orientation. The one in the foreground, on a manmade island, is sited directly above the underground makeshift laboratory (a storage closet of a waste water treatment plant) where the photons were transmitted from. The one in the background, partially obscured by fog, is on the western shoreline of the Danube, sited near the photon receiver location. The adjacent pagoda (unrelated to this project) is a memorial to the victims of Nagasaki and Hiroshima – a sobering, but sympathetic (and coincidental) monument to deep time.



Text from the 2012 issue of Landscape, an four-issue landscape architecture journal published from 2011-2014 at die angewandt:

Duplicity
The curious state, in quantum teleportation, of the absoluteduplicity that exists between the entangled pairsof photos is reflected, in this design, as a pair of twinmonoliths. One monolith exactly resembles that of theother in all respects but rendered in a way so that onevisually mirrors that of the other. This is done to impressthis quality of reflection upon the viewer, even across thedistance of the Donau river (~400 meters), so as to clearlyreinforce this state.

Singularity
The rough and seemingly “natural” design of the standingstone, or menhir, was chosen over a minimal, modernform to emphasize the intent of perfect replication —one object as a duplicate of another — implying thatonly these two perfect pairs exist. This creates a visualand conceptual connection between the two that focusesmeaning and defines them as a fixed pair, distinct andwithout duplicates elsewhere. The realization of this isimmediate and becomes a singular experience for theviewer.The surrounding landscape is briefly negated asattention is focused on the monoliths, their reason forexistence, and the space between. Duplicate sleek forms,overtly constructed with modern techniques and witheven surfaces wouldn’t easily communicate this singularityand exceptional state.

Compression / Negation
This monument compresses space between each monolithas well as compresses time between the present, thedate of the experiment and the thousands of years thathave passed since the megalithic era when the buildingof such sites with standing stones was common practice.Megaliths are the longest lasting built form to date —they are a proven technique of delivering messages deepin to the future, despite social upheaval and climacticchange. This extreme duration also contrasts, intentionally,with the zero-time reality of teleportation: space andtime negated. What’s left in this void is pure information,content, meaning, existing simultaneously in two locationsat once.

Specifications and Materials

Each monolith is 10 meters tall and constructed fromhigh-grade, hardened concrete, laser cut to match a scaledversion of a existing menhir such as the the “PierrePercée” (which has the added feature of a viewing holein the center) in Draché or the “Géant du Manio” in Britanny.One is a mirrored design of the other and installedas such, visually.

Locations

Monolith “Alice” is to be installed directly above theoriginal underground laboratory site “Alice” (transmitter),on the eastern shore of the Donau, located on theisland, Donauinsel, adjacent to the sewage pumping plantbuilding.

Monolith “Bob” is to be installed a few hundred metersfrom the original “Bob” laboratory site (receiver) andcloser to the Donau so as to be in clear sight of the theother monolith, on the western shore of the Donau, approximately100 meters north of the Buddhist stupa andmeditation center. Visitor centers will be built at both original laboratorysites: underground at Alice and at ground level, both insideand outside of the utility building, at the western endof the tunnel, owned by the pumping plant. Markers willbe mounted near each monolith as well as at each visitorcenter with entrance instructions and didactic text.