A digital render of the virtual reality experience Heartbreak and Magic by Libby Heaney. At the centre is an orb like structure from which grow branches and large red blood-like blobs float in the space.
Somerset House Studios

Libby Heaney: Heartbreak and Magic

09 - 20 Feb 2024
New Wing

A new virtual reality artwork and physical installation by the award-winning Somerset House Studios artist and quantum physicist Dr. Libby Heaney.

Due to high demand we have extended the run of Heartbreak and Magic until Tue 20 Feb.

Drawing on Libby Heaney's own experience with personal grief and sudden loss, the artwork explores the non-binary and non-local qualities of quantum physics to offer alternative perspectives on how we think and feel about the self and existence. The immersive installation invites you to connect deeply with emotions by exploring the meaning of existence in both the physical and virtual realms.

Heartbreak and Magic will include virtual reality artwork set within a specially designed physical installation featuring mixed-media paintings, connecting to the virtual experience. You can expect a shifting, multilayered landscape that seeks to evoke themes of cyclicity, liminality, and the multiverse.

The installation continues Heaney’s explorations into the “magical” possibilities of quantum physics – in particular the inherent plurality and interconnectedness within concepts such as superposition and entanglement. Heaney developed the work through an iterative, experimental process involving both physical and digital forms of creativity, from movement practice, writing, drawing, and painting to bespoke quantum computing code and game engine prototyping. Heartbreak and Magic brings her experimentation with quantum computing into virtual reality for the first time.

Libby Heaney: Heartbreak and Magic Trailer

Heartbreak and Magic is commissioned by VIVE Arts and presented in partnership with Somerset House.

VIVE Arts logo

Content Guidance

This VR experience is not suitable for children under the age of 13. The VR headsets are designed to adult specifications and VR use in children can pose risks to vision as well as nausea and headaches. Given the technology involved, VR is also not recommended for those that are pregnant, people prone to epileptic seizures and migraines, or people with balance, vision or heart problems. The experience also addresses grief and sudden loss. Please speak to the Visitor Experience team if you have any questions.