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 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 to breed 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 are 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 customised software, a number of ‘agents’ are created and assigned a simple behaviour, a repetitive pattern of movement and sound. On their own, each agents’ is monotonous and mechanical, acting completely unaware of its neighbours and ‘the bigger picture’. However the interaction of the different agents’ behaviours create complex, rich, evolving behaviours and compositions – both visually and sonically.