Simple Harmonic Motion Series (2015)
Simple Harmonic Motion #12 for 16 Percussionists.
Live at Royal Northern College of Music, FutureEverything, 25.02.2015.
Project page here.
Simple Harmonic Motion #11 for Light at Blenheim Palace (2014)
Project page here.
Simple Harmonic Motion #9 (2013)
Simple Harmonic Motion #8 (2013)
Simple Harmonic Motion #6 (WIP proof of concept) (2012)
Test / concept video for live performance adaptation.
Simple Harmonic Motion #5 (2011)
Simple Harmonic Motion #3 (2011)
Simple Harmonic Motion #2 (2011)
Available to purchase on seditions here.
Simple Harmonic Motion #1 (2011)
This version is tuned to precisely follow the frequencies of the following video:
A number of these works are available to purchase at seditionart.com/memo-akten/collection/simple-harmonic-motion
Simple Harmonic Motion is an ongoing series of projects and research investigating complexity from simplicity – specifically the emergence of complex behaviour through the interaction of simple multilayered rhythms. It is inspired by natural and mathematical phenomena, as well as works by the likes of Norman Mclaren, John Whitney, Steve Reich, John Cage, Gyorgi Ligeti and Edgar Varèse.
The initial motivation for the project is a personal abstract memoir of growing up in and experiencing Istanbul. Inspired by Orhan Veli Kanik’s poem “Istanbulu dinliyorum” (“I’m listening to Istanbul with my eyes closed”), it is a very non-literal visual and sonic interpretation of the cultural diversity of the city; a collision of cultures and intertwined opposites: progressive vs conservative, religious vs secular, liberal vs authoritarian, extreme decadence vs severely moral; interwoven, not only in the same city, but in the same streets, the same buildings. Seemingly conflicted yet managing to not only co-exist, but breeding thriving and flourishing subcultures. In the chaos of the city, a rich tapestry of different lifestyles, different patterns and rhythms cross paths on a daily basis. The intersection of these rhythms create complex cyclical, quasi-periodic patterns. Movements that may initially appear to be random and arbitrary, are actually governed by an elaborate order creating recognizable yet constantly evolving behaviour.
In the installation, both image and sound is driven by the same mathematical principles and algorithm: a complex signal, broken down into its basic elements operating at different frequencies. While this underlying fundamental principle – the fourier series – is a purely abstract mathematical theorem, it is also responsible for our understanding of almost every aspect of the physical, biological and social world; including but not limited to acoustics, economics, quantum mechanics, predicting earthquakes, protein structures, DNA and the composition of distant stars and galaxies.
The Simple Harmonic Motion series of works transposes the invisible elegance found in these abstract mathematical equations, driving almost every aspect of our lives, to a medium we can see, hear and feel.
Through the use of custom software, a number of ‘agents’ are created and assigned a simple behaviour, a repetitive pattern of movement and sound. On their own, each agent is monotonous and mechanical, acting completely unaware of their neighbours and ‘the bigger picture’. However the interaction of the different agent’s behaviours create complex, rich, evolving behaviours and compositions – both visually and sonically.
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.