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Toril Johannessen

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Non-conservation of energy (and of spirits)

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Non-conservation of energy (and of spirits)

Video, 24:00 minutes loop.
Installation view, Machine Worries, Machine Hearts, Blank Projects, Cape Town
Another variation of presentation, as part of the installation Extraordinary Popular Delusions, can be seen here.

The video Non-Conservation of energy (and of spirits) is a transcribed dialogue between Johannessen and a
clairvoyant medium where the artist asks questions addressed to a collective scientific consciousness and more
specifically the late Danish physicist Niels Bohr. The dialogue is presented as subtitles to an imageless video,
and the answers from the spirits are in the form of knocking sounds. One knock indicates yes, two knocks indicates a no.

The subject for the dialogue is energy – energy as a physical phenomenon, and implicitly as a spiritual phenomenon.
A central question in the video addressed to Niels Bohr is: What if energy is not conserved, but to the contrary can be
produced and destructed? Bohr allegedly once played with such an idea; quite to the contrary to the energy conservation law,
the first law of thermodynamics, that says that the total energy in a system remains constant. The questions are for example
what kind of impact such a model of energy would have on our world view and the way resources are distributed;
if the energy conservation law is a false axiom; if there is such a thing as perfect balance.