Libby Heaney

Libby Heaney's post-disciplinary art practice includes moving image works, performances and participatory & interactive experiences that span quantum computing, virtual reality, AI and installation. Heaney has a background in quantum computing: a PhD in theoretical quantum information science and 5 years of post-doctoral fellowships including running my her research programme at the University of Oxford. Since 2019, Heaney has been widely recognised for making pioneering artwork with quantum computing.


Heaney's practice uses humour, surrealism and nonsense to subvert the capitalist appropriation of technology, the endless categoriziations and control of humans and non-humans alike. Instead, Heaney uses tools like machine learning and quantum computing against their 'proper' use, to undo biases and to forge new expressions of collective identity and belonging with each other and the world.


Heaney's work uses diverse media & modes like blurring, combining, remixing, weaving (derived from quantum physics) to unsettle or 'diffract' standard conceptions of 'truth'. From these foggy modes emerge strange new forms that question the distinction between fake & real, visible & invisible, private & public, the individual & the collective especially where those categories are mediated by technology.


The works are played out by bots & people alike & draw on a wide range of source material spanning pop culture (Spice Girls, Elvis Presley, David Bowie, Whitney Houston etc), politics (Angela Merkel, Theresa May, Boris Johnson, the British Citizenship Test), literature (Lady Chatterley's Lover, Haruki Murakami novels) & beyond. 


Working, for the most part, at the intersections of quantum physics, machine learning & the visual, these disparate antecedents are employed & deployed to question orthodoxies—from received ideas about the body, gender & genius, to pop culture & class, alienation & solidarity, contemporary current political systems & rhetoric, nations & nationalism, science & art, and desire in the digital age—and explore alternatives.


Her projects speak to the entanglement of personal & machine agency where the power of the participatory & the collective presents a possible alternative to the hostility of state surveillance, corporate data mining, & the quantum arms race.


Ostensibly disparate, divergent, and wide-ranging, the works guiding questions include: what would it look like if art were able to interrupt the pace of technology to pose questions about its ethics? and how can humans and non-humans join together to co-author positive futures?


Libby has exhibited her artwork widely in galleries and institutions in the UK and internationally including solo exhibitions as part of the 2017 EU capital of culture in Aarhus and at the Goethe Institute (London 2019) and in group shows at Holden Gallery (online 2021), Somerset House Studios (online 2020), Arebyte Gallery (online 2020), LUX/Hervisions (online 2020), Tate Modern (London 2016, 2019), ICA (London 2019), V&A (London 2018), Barbican (London 2019), Somerset House (London 2019), Sheffield Documentary Festival (2018), Science Gallery Dublin (2017, 2018, 2019), Sonar+D (with the British Council, Barcelona 2017), The Lowry (Manchester 2017), Ars Electronica (Linz 2017), CogX (London 2018), Telefonica Fundacion (with the British Council, Lima 2017). Libby has received a number of Arts Council England projects grants to support her work and is currently a resident of Somerset House Studios.


She lives and works in London.