The Fine Tuning:
This project is inspired by the “fine tuning” problem of the natural universe, that is, the fact that the constants of our cosmos seem perfectly determined to have produced observers. The fine tuning problem is also related to the anthropic principle, which suggests that by the very act of observing the natural universe, we inadvertently also select or determine what this universe could possibly be. Observers are thus in a constant phenomenological feedback loop with the known universe, a correlational circle.
The ideas of feedback and of resonance are important here. Though I am not using room or mixer feedback, the installation is based on analog electronic oscillators, and in their most basic form, oscillators are nothing more than an amplifier that feeds back into itself. The specific frequency an oscillator produces is the resonant frequency of its circuit: it starts by amplifying random noise and with every loop back through the amp, the resonant frequency of the circuit is reinforced, just as the resonant frequencies of a room are reinforced when a speaker feeds back through a mic. The resulting pure sine wave the oscillator produces is selected from the white noise that was initially amplified, and theoretically which contains all frequencies. This is not unlike the way the universe seems to have come into being, as selected from all other possible universes by a feedback process involving the observer. The feedback loop is the basic principle on which emergence depends: in systems theory, it is the mechanism selectively retains from blind variation (randomness, noise, mutation), and hence reinforces certain characteristics from that pool through repetition, producing homeostatic stabilities.
The Soliton Crossing:
The Soliton Crossing is a series of audio visual performances that explores various wave phenomena, interference and noise, in the human world as well as at cosmic scales. Using custom computer software that synchronizes and harmonizes the frequencies and sequencing of sound and light, the performance tunes sound and light waves in and out of harmony with various resonant frequencies, standing waves and other cyclic phenomena in the physical universe, causing various patterns to emerge and propagate as the result of their interference.
The project is loosely based on the idea of Musica Universalis, an ancient philosophical concept that associated the proportional movements of celestial bodies to musical harmonies (the infamous “harmony of spheres”). It was thought that the cycles and rhythms observed in the universe obeyed a kind of cosmic harmony, an inaudible music. Modern technology allows us to transpose these frequencies and rhythms from scales too large or too little for us to perceive, to the human ranges of audible sound and visible light. In addition to transposing the frequency of the Earth’s orbit around the sun and the its rotation upon its axis, The Soliton Crossing also harmonizes to the frequency of local electrical systems (60 Hz in North America), the ELFs of the standing waves in the atmosphere (known as the Schumann Resonances: 7.83, 14.3, 20.8, 27.3 and 33.8 Hz), as well as the resonant frequencies of the room in which the performances are presented. These various local and universal oscillations, of course, do not generally harmonize (as was thought by the proponents of Musica Universalis), and so when they are combined, their interference and phase differences create diffraction patterns. The idea is to create a ritual around emergence in the cosmos as the effect of the interference of various propagating forces.