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Making
Waves

10.01.17
Work

Nature at the smallest scales is thought to be composed of something wave-like.

Waves are also the basis of music, and they yield beautiful visual form in addition.

Perhaps it isn’t surprising that nature’s fundamentals are often linked to our aesthetic tastes in this sort of way.

Maybe we have some subconscious appreciation for their importance, or it could just be through social conditioning and the fact that they are common forms because of their natural irreducibility.

The idea seemed like a simple one visually, so I wanted to create a simple classic synth approach musically, and find a strong retro aesthetic visually to match. Tom Hodge added some Fender Rhodes noodling for extra retro feel, and Kevin McGloughlin nailed the visual approach with a great technique for presenting waves as the product of strong moving lines in a simple colour scheme. Some of the video work reminds me of 60’s or 70’s modernist imagery, which fit right in musically.

I chose the concept of waves for part of the Emergence story, because they are a very important idea in much of our understanding of the world around us, and within us. They form the basis of light and wireless communications, and our source of energy from the sun which creates almost all plant and animal life. Our best understanding of the fundamental nature of reality at the smallest scales is purely waves, apparently. And even the process of neuronal action that produces our awareness relies on waves of charge flow created by forces which are supposedly themselves mediated by waves - the virtual photon, a massless wave (i.e. light), being the force carrier of the electromagnetic charge which shunts particles around inside your neurones to make you think. And then there’s the more familiar waves that can dump you under and make you swallow some rank sea water.

There are different ways in which waves can operate, and what constitutes a wave at all, with or without a medium for example. But they all seem to involve energy transfer without needing the transfer of physical mass - like you can see in the video, the mass (each particle, or a charge) moves up and down on a single axis, and the wave, and energy, is propagated through the medium by these point oscillations.

'Waves' is the first single from 'Emergence' album - stream/buy Emergence here.