The Art of Quantum Physics

Quantum physics suggests that a given
particle has infinite potential and can be
in many different places simultaneously
until the moment it is observed. Being
observed harnesses this potential into a
singular experience, thereupon giving it
a specific time and location in the spacetime

For the lucky waves and particles
that undergo Bettina Brendel's gaze,
that manifesting result is art in its most
creative state. She channels the potentials
of physics onto canvas, fusing the
boundaries of art and science.

The Santa Monica Emeritus College
Art Gallery held a reception for Bettina
Brendel's renowned paintings, digital
prints and multi-media works on
Thursday, Nov. 25. Brendel, as well as
curator Peter Frank, spoke affectionately
of the work and stayed at the gallery for
the duration of the night to give guests
a chance for first-hand interviews,
discussions, and questions regarding the
ideas behind the artwork.

Brendel has been a driving force
in the art scene for almost 60 years, a
feat that in itself attests to her talent.
She's a pioneering artist of the quantum
revolution, a pen pal of German physicist
and philosopher Werner Heisenberg, and
a survivor of WWII.

Her work focuses on the interpretation
of concepts of quantum physics like
wave-particle duality and the uncertainty
principle through the use of digital
techniques, paint, and even paper

According to Brendel, "a particle is not
a point, but a probability of linear energy
defining space in time," an idea that sheds
light rays on the style and technique
employed in a majority of her works.
"The visual metaphor that I adopted for
the representation of particles of matter
and energy, electrons and protons, is a
short, straight line that intersects with
other equal lines at various angles," said
Brendel in "The Artist as Physicist" in
Nunes dos Santos, A.M., ed.

Her paintings succeed in making
simple scribbles of short overlapping
lines look aesthetically captivating
while simultaneously defining theories
of quantum mechanics.

The themes interwoven within
Bettina's strokes of "linear energy"
are as baffling as the photons within
quantum leaps within infinitely parallel
universes of subjective thought. At
least a fundamental understanding of
quantum mechanics and physics is
required in order to truly understand the
insights illustrated through Brendel's
art. However, as with all forms of
expression, the viewer's mind is the
true mirror for the meaning within the
brush strokes.

A prevalent characteristic of Brendel's
work seems to be the between the balance
of light and dark. Many of the pieces,
like "Nucleus 1 & 2," "Diffraction" and
"Light and Dark," explore the reactions
caused by the interaction of opposing.
Whether they are inlaid metaphors for
all the different levels of experience
within the universe, chaos theory and
intelligent design, the mundane notion of
good and evil, or whatever else the mind
can envision is up to the viewer.

Visually captivating works such
as "Fractal Expansion" depict all
intermingling ideas of continual birth
and growth such as the Big Bang, while
the dazzling rays of "Satellite" illustrate
celestial energy waves and particles
orbiting what may be a planet.
Although created in 1999, the
psychedelic influence of the sixties is
well apparent in "Electronic Garden,"
in which Brendel paints particles in
prismatic clusters of color. The same
may be said of "Kaleidoscope," which,
true to its title, portrays the behavior
of light through Brendel's artistic

Brendel revisits the physics of light
in "Light at Dawn," "Diffraction" and
"Gray Lights," where she explores the
behavior of light-waves, the obstacles
they encounter, the ways in which they
bend, and the illumination they create for
the world and the artist's mind. "Modern
physics is opening up a new world of
ideas to the artist who is part of the
nuclear age," said Brendel in "The Artist
as Physicist." "Light and energy in the
nuclear age have assumed affirmative,
but also destructive, potentials."

In "Resonance," quantum wave
functions are the subject of her acrylic
strokes, whereas in "Emanations," she
translates the transfer of energy from
one body of matter to another with her
meticulous lines of probability.

Brendel is not an artist whose intentions
are hidden in layers of mystery. Among
her work with painting and digital art,
Brendel has also written numerous essays
on her work, quantum mechanics, and
the fusion of the two fields. Although
her art may be interpreted in a number of
ways, Brendel gives the curious art critic
detailed explanation of the theories at the
core of her work in her writing.

However, as with her poetry,
understanding quantum physics and
the language thereof could prove just
as mind-boggling as expressionism
in art.

Brendel's exhibit at the Santa Monica
Emeritus College will be open until
Saturday, Dec. 13. She's not a stranger
to Santa Monica College, as her exhibit
of large paintings in acrylic will also be
at the Pete & Susan Barrett Art Gallery
at the Madison Campus from Oct. 28
until Dec. 13.