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The Conference of Crossed Destinies 2021

Oil and Acrylic on canvas 200x120cm

The Astronomer Royal, Lord Martin Rees, once described science as the structure of a building. Particle physics is in the basement as it is truly fundamental, ascending through the more complex structures of chemistry, biology and the life sciences, until we finally reach economists who aspire to claim the penthouse. Italo Calvino’s ‘The Castle of Crossed Destinies’ (1973), deals with semantics, meaning and interpretation. It depicts a group of travelers who inexplicably lose their ability to speak after passing through a magical forest on horseback. After arriving at a castle, they join their aristocratic hosts around a long table and attempt to regale the conditions under which they came there pictorially using Tarot cards. The narrator’s loose interpretations are indicative of how easily meanings can be misconstrued. This beautiful book was used by Vlatko Vedral (2010) as a metaphor with which to structure his scientific discourse- ‘Decoding Reality; The Universe as Quantum Information’. He envisaged a scenario in which each of the participants around the table represent a knowledge field and that the research conducted in each field uncovers just one aspect of what we understand as reality. His proposal that one thing to connects them all, and that is that information is physical, is compelling. That ‘the conference of crossed discoveries’ (2021) I place a multicultural cast of characters whose activities or research has fascinated me.