CRITICISM - Karin Laansoo, Encyclopedia Normannica – Estonian Art 2/2006

Kristina Norman I was pretty certain that, after graduating from school, I would never need it. I mean my knowledge of secondary school physics. And it was quite true, until the moment I urgently needed to find out what exactly sets Kristina Norman off. This is someone for whom ‘Little Radio’ is a specific person and Albert Einstein is the source of radiation of the ‘Field of Genius’. She has, as her Bible, Paul Davies’s ‘Supersila’ (1) on her table, and recently wanted to have her head surgically enlarged. All this has produced in me a number of slightly anomalous manifestations, including acquiring knowledge of quantum chromodynamics and a hierarchy of parallel realities. I have got as far as ‘How to Build a Time Machine’, one of the books by the populariser of theoretical physics, Paul Davies, and I don’t believe it will get any easier...

Kristina Norman Kristina is awesomely thorough. Once she decides to examine a topic, it is nothing less than the history of radio or Albert Einstein’s family tree. She is never satisfied with the knowledge offered in any of the ‘bluff-yourway- through’ this or that type of book. Each new undertaking is a project approaching the dimensions of an encyclopaedia. When she was busy with the book 22+, one wall in her small studio was covered with materials for the ‘Little Radio’ project. From the archive photographs of the morning exercises of workers at the radio factory Punane RET [Red Radio Electronics Factory, a factory in Soviet Estonia – Ed] to the schemes for the Estonia radio. Naturally I had no idea how it was all supposed to come together, but considering such assiduousness it would be embarrassing to offer an opinion about weird quarks without knowing the Wheeler-Feynman theory. Do you suppose that the drawn clothes Albert Einstein’s parents are wearing in the video The ‘Field of Genius’ are just an artist’s fantasy? You should can again.

Kristina Norman Kristina’s attitude to the sciences is more than special. She uses scientific quotations to prove her theories. She consults microbiologists and surgeons if this proves necessary. She expands the Wheeler-Feynman theory of particles to the history of science and the result is the ‘Field of Genius’ emanating from Albert Einstein, which radiates in time in both directions… How better to explain it. According to the Wheeler-Feynman theory, the way a particle behaves now depends on how it behaves afterwards (don’t expect any more from me, I’m still learning). And Kristina’s derivation from this, projected to the history of science: “It occurred to me that all those scientists who lived before had received waves of the ‘Field of Genius’ from Albert, and acted so that Albert could complete his theory in the future.” Well...

Kristina Norman Kristina’s ideas feed on disputes in contemporary astrophysics, but then float in quite unexpected directions. To be precise, they feed selectively, and mostly do not let themselves be disturbed. For example, Kristina has an article by the Swedish-American cosmologist Max Tegmark, published in Scientific American, about parallel universes, but: “I did not immediately read the article – I thought my own ideas through and when I needed to justify them, I read the article and used quotations from there. I already knew that it had everything in it. So initially I offered my version, as I did not really want the real thing to influence me.”

Kristina Norman In this case, her version is a doppelgänger from parallel reality – Kristina Norman with a bigger head. “The head is not that much bigger, just a bit – maybe a centimetre or so.” This idea has matured from the following prime elements: David Cronenberg’s film Existenz, Doctor Seppo’s* bone surgery and Max Tegmark’s article of parallel universes. Assuming that the first two are a bit better known, allow me to briefly introduce the third. Dr Tegmark claims that if the so-called multiverse exists, then everything that can happen happens. Thus, if we could see far enough (to 1028 m) into one of the parallel universes, we would each find an exact copy of ourselves – with the same appearance and same memories. The distance is astronomical, but it does not make the doppelgänger any less real. In an infinite space, even the most improbable events must take place somewhere. Oh yes, I forgot to say that the main issue here is not whether the parallel universes exist, but how many levels there are.

Kristina Norman I cannot now remember at which point my knowledge ended, when I first heard this, but for me, it did not make any difference, as far as credibility was concerned, whether it was the theory of the astrophysicist Max Tegmark or the MA student in fine arts Kristina Norman. Both seemed to have watched too much Star Trek. The ‘real thing’ seemed just as crazy as a 1-cm bigger head. Besides, Max Tegmark’s nickname Mad Max does not exactly make things any easier.

This brings us to the most significant factor – credibility. The weirdness of the theory quite clearly has no connection with the possibility of proving it. The most incredible thing can be put forward if a sufficient number of reasons exist. And in suggesting credibility, Kristina does not spare the means. She convinces us quite passionately that the ‘Field of Genius’ is real and her doppelgänger in a parallel reality has a bit larger head. For that purpose she draws authentic detailed schemes, chooses a suggestive male voice that sounds like it came from the Discovery Channel to read the text for The ‘Field of Genius’, and adds an introduction that imitates a lecture, thus making the whole video seem like a documentary. It may accidentally happen that the result is pithy, like an article in Scientific American. “This is all too much – this is material for three videos”, said a Dutch curator, in confusion, after seeing Kristina’s The ‘Field of Genius’. The author is not in the least bothered about this. Art is not a field where a really good concentrate should be diluted. It would be another story altogether if Paul Davies and Max Tegmark promoted club activities. This trio should actually discuss their theories at a public debate ...

I would sit in the front row.

(1) Russian translation from the book Superforce: The Search for a Grand Unified Theory of Nature (1984).
(*) Dr Arnold Seppo (1917–1980) – legendary surgeon and scientist in Estonia, serious bone- and burning diseases were cured in his clinic in Tallinn [Ed]