Reality Lost is a documentary that tackles a revolution in thinking. What does quantum theory tell us about reality? Who are the scientists trying to unravel its puzzles? What practical things can we do with it? Can we dance it?
Conceived and executed by me, the film was made in Singapore in 2013 with a generous support from the Centre for Quantum Technologies (CQT) at the National University of Singapore.
It features eight leading researchers talking about quantum theory in locations ranging from dense jungle to hazy roof-tops and old boats to busy eateries. The film also features sequences of dance and of pottery-making at Singapore’s largest surviving dragon kiln – contrasting abstract ideas and earthy reality.
The movie was supposed to be a series of short episodes. I started off imagining that I would make one episode to deal with the existence of reality and the problem of measurement, one with the quantum multiverse, and one with quantum aspects of biology. In the making, the project transformed itself. It went through a whole Darwinian evolutionary process, and I ended up not with a collection of parts but with a single hour-long, full-blown documentary movie.
Reality Lost focuses on a single question, the most fundamental question among the philosophical consequences of quantum mechanics: does reality exist?
If the outcome works, it’s thanks to a bunch of extraordinary people: Artur Ekert, who turned the green light knob; Jenny Hogan who made the light lit; Dag Kaszlikowski, the film’s host, whose support cannot be overestimated; Charles Bennett, Gilles Brassard, Stephanie Wehner, Christian Kurtsiefer, Valerio Scarani, Vlatko Vedral – the researchers who decided to risk their reputation by participating in this project.
There were also Faye Lim, Bernice Lee, Christina Chan, and Daniel Sahagun Sanchez (also a CQTian), local artists who made the movie literally dance. There were also ceramicists Steven Low Thia Kwang and Ng Yang Ce. Without them reality would have much less tangible a status.
And, last but not least, there was Singapore, an incredible city state, the lab of the future, providing a multilayered visual context and subtext of the story line.