Past event

22 April 2017
10am – 3pm

Uncertainty Principle: a live performance by Mark Harvey

22 April 2017. Free entry.

Uncertainty Principle: Utopic Congestion Live performance (in consultation with Shaun Hendy, physicist)

Click here to see documentation of this live performance on The Physics Room's Vimeo account. Photography: Daegan Wells. Editing: Daniel Strang. 

Uncertainty Principle is a live performance by Mark Harvey in which he will explore promises of utopia in a post-disaster urban location. Reflecting on the material manifestations of politically authoritative town mapping, Harvey will ask what it might mean to explore the evolving urban landscape around The Physics Room. Engaging with notions of menial labour, surplus labour and the promises of productivity under the current political status quo, Harvey will also ask how can we deal with a post-petrol, post-lithium, post-job future in our cities, namely Christchurch?

Shaun Hendy imagines a Christchurch that is redesigned to draw on our knowledge of nature. He proposes that it is designed organically, with fractal hierarchies of structure and space, like a mature forest, providing niches for the new, the old, moreover, the unexpected. 

This performance is also a reflection on Reuben Moss’s exhibition Monuments and Other Reminders, and it is the second instalment of Harvey’s ongoing series Nonlocality at The Physics Room.

Uncertainty Principle will also reflect on its quantum mechanics namesake, by Werner Heisenberg (1926), where “the values of certain pairs of variables cannot both be known exactly, so that the more precisely one variable is known, the less precisely the other can be known”. Harvey is interested in that which might lay behind the object of labour-as-spectacle in live performance in relation to how we plan cities like Christchurch, with outcomes that cannot yet be predicted or witnessed. Nonlocality will depart from these previous works in responding to the various currents lying underneath and through the Physics Room. In consideration of this, in addition to the whakapapa of the Physics Room, Harvey seeks to develop moments of productive promises through performativity and active viewership for this space and time.


Mark Harvey is a New Zealand-based artist mostly working in performance and video drawing on political, psychological and social approaches and physical endurance. He is a Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Creative Arts and Industries at The University of Auckland and has a PhD from AUT University in related practice. He has recently published a book on a sample of 14 years of his practice titled Play Book (Index Design and Publishing).

Shaun Hendy is a physicist and Director of Te Pūnaha Matatini. His recent book Silencing Science reflects on the value of science and how it has been so often silenced when it comes to public policy. He served as Deputy Director of the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology from 2008-2012 and as President of the New Zealand Association of Scientists from 2011-2013. He has won a number of awards, including the Prime Minister's Science Media Communication Prize and ANZIAM's E. O. Tuck Medal. In 2012 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand. Hendy is a Professor of Physics at the University of Auckland.