Commissioned by Friends of the High Line with additional support from Red Bull Arts, Heisenberg is an audio-immersive game that investigates what happens when we assume others occupy the same realities we do. The game is intended for groups of 30-800+ participants in open public spaces.
The piece bridges contemporary particle physics with sociopolitical implications of uncertainty. Developed following the 2016 presidential election, Heisenberg investigates what happens when we assume others occupy the same realities and motivations that we do.
Through audio headsets, audience members are invited to inhabit a range of characters both human and not—interacting with other players whose instructions may or may not be the same. The game asks: if we don’t know what’s coming, how do we live? And: if we don’t know each other, how do we live together?
I first staged Heisenberg at the High Line to an audience of several hundred. In this work, audience members are not passive recipients of the text, but the animators and characters of it. Watching them bring to life the game’s choreography and dynamics was thrilling, both for me and for casual passersby on the High Line. I particularly loved seeing quiet beautiful moments between people of different generations—as young as eight and as old as eighty—and seeing a giant, mostly adult crowd very earnestly sing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” in minor key together as they mourned the passing of a supernova.
Written and Directed by Janani Balasubramanian
Composed by Tina Hanaé Miller
Musical Arrangements by Solomon Hoffman
Flute/Alto Flute/Clarinet/Bass Clarinet/Tenor Sax- Bill Todd, Oboe/English Horn/Flute/Clarinet/Alto Sax - Justin Vance, Trumpet - Brandon Bergeron, French Horn - Kyra Sims, Trombone - Mariel Bildsten, Violin - Kevin Kuh, Violin - Julia Danitz, Viola - Georgina Rossi, Cello - Susan Mandel, Bass - Nick Lenchner , Piano - David Kravitz, Harp - Lizzie No
Special thanks to Red Bull Studios and their audio engineers for use of their audio recording facilities and assistance in recording, mixing, and editing Heisenberg.
Stanford Cantor Arts Center (June 2018)