Simple Harmonic Motion #5 (2011)
Simple Harmonic Motion #5:
Simple Harmonic Motion #5 at Ron Arad’s Curtain Call, August 2011, London, UK:
Simple Harmonic Motion #5 at Foreman’s Gallery, March 2012, London, UK:
Simple Harmonic Motion #6 WIP proof of concept:
The following video was inspiration for the first incarnation:
3ch HD projection, 2ch sound
Dimensions (variable): [5.33m x 0.76m]-[10m x 1.43m]
Simple Harmonic Motion is an ongoing research and series of projects investigating complexity from simplicity; exploring the nature of complex patterns created from the interaction of simple multilayered rhythms. It is inspired by observations of natural physical and mathematical phenomena; as well as works by the likes of Norman Mclaren, John Whitney, Steve Reich, John Cage, Gyorgi Ligeti, Edgar Varèse, Brian Eno.
The project is continually evolving and developing. It is presented in the form of a video and sound installation, with a planned live performance for 30 performers (SHM #7). Different iterations of the project exist as independent pieces which can be presented at different shapes and sizes.
Behind the different incarnations, at the heart of the project lies the concept of creating complexity from simplicity. Through the use of custom software, a number of ‘agents’ are created and assigned a simple behavior. Each follow an extremely simple repetitive pattern of movement and sound. On their own, each agent is relatively monotonous, basic and mechanical. The repetition duration, motion and sound of each agent is precisely tuned such that the collection of all agents moving together, creates a unique, evolving and complex composition – both visually and sonically.
The seed of inspiration comes from the motion of pendulums and other fundamental oscillatory phenomena which exhibit simple harmonic motion. The project extracts and amplifies these complex patterns, both through visual abstraction and emphasis; and also through sonifying the phenomena and creating musical patterns driven by the same equations that dictate the behaviour.
Our capability in recognising patterns sonically is very different to our capability in recognising patterns visually. On the whole (excluding exceptions), people tend to be more spatially sensitive with their visual perception, while they are more temporally sensitive with their aural perception. I.e. it is easier for most of us to estimate where and how far away something is by seeing it, as opposed to just hearing it. However we are sonically more temporally sensitive, both on a macro scale (e.g. it is easier for most of us to detect whether a pulse is exactly on a beat accurate to a few milliseconds by hearing a repetitive sound, compared to seeing a flashing image) and also on a micro scale (e.g. it is difficult for most of us to detect an exact doubling of frequency in light waves – i.e. hue shift; however an exact doubling of frequency in sound waves – i.e. an octave transpose – is relatively realistic for many humans to detect). By translating patterns between visual and sonic domains; and between spatial and temporal axes, we are able to recognize and realize interesting new relationships previously unnoticed.
By abstracting, emphasising and amplifying the beautiful complex patterns created from the interaction of simple harmonic motion at different frequencies, the project aims to share the enthusiasm, excitement and fascination I personally feel from such observations in nature and fundamental physical and mathematical phenomena. Ultimately hoping to encourage and inspire others to look at the world around them in more detail, with a more interrogatory approach; most importantly learning to find fascination in what they normally would not even have looked at; and even leading them to do more research along similar lines; hopefully in turn encouraging and inspiring others.
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