Art of Interference
Season 1: Water | Episode 4: Waves
[LK: Lutz Koepnick | ER: Emma Reimers | TH: Tori Hoover| CN: Carsten Nicolai | ML: Maren Loveland | JG: Jennifer Gutman | DF: David Farina | KAI: Karin Amimoto Ingersoll]
LK: So, Emma – we’re four episodes into this project. How are you feeling about it?
ER: Pretty good! Why do you ask?
LK: Well, I’ve been thinking, given that this podcast is called “Art of Interference,” it might be time to talk about what, exactly, interference actually is. So… How well do you remember high school physics?
ER: Oh no. Uh, let’s just say there’s a reason my Ph.D is in Education… Got a solid C+ in high school physics.
LK: I can’t say I am surprised.
LK: [laughs] So I guess it’s not very likely that you remember being taught the idea of acoustical interference. But maybe… You didn’t listen to the radio as a kid, did you?
ER: I did! I still do.
LK: Well, then you probably know of interference as a term that had something to do with radio. It’s what happens when signals aren’t as clearly separated as they should be.
ER: I’ve always thought of it just as some annoying sonic garbage, to be honest.
LK: But your physics teacher probably wanted you to know the structure behind that garbage. In more scientific terminology, interference is a phenomenon in which two sound waves merge in such a way that the resulting wave will have a lower or a higher amplitude, meaning that it will become either quieter or louder. That’s destructive or constructive interference, respectively.
ER: Ok well, I’ve learned a bit in my own sound editing work about how the low of one wave coincides with the high of the other to cancel each other out.
LK: And silence is the result, right? Noise cancelling headphones use this today.
ER: I actually wear my eAirPods inside of my noise canceling Bose headphones sometimes. God bless the ability to control your acoustic environment and remain focused.
LK: Or even better: the ability to sleep on a noisy airplane.
From Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, this is Art of Interference: a podcast about creative responses to climate change. In each episode, we talk with artists and experts who work at the intersection of nature, technology, and science today.
Today’s episode is hosted by Emma Reimers and Lutz Koepnick.
ER: Today’s episode of Art of Interference features the German artist, experimental composer, and performer Carsten Nicolai.
LK: Nicolai grew up in East Germany, in Karl-Marx Stadt, which after the fall of the wall in 1989 was named back to its original Chemnitz. It’s a rather bleak city, the third largest in the state of Saxony. The region has a long history of ore mining and became Saxony’s Manchester during the industrial revolution. In more recent years, it has served as a bit of a battleground between rightwing extremists and much larger efforts to contain them.
ER: Since the late 1990s, Nicolai’s works, including his musical performances under the stage name Alva Noto, have been at the forefront of exploring the play between art and science.
LK: Few contemporary artists work more closely at the point where these two fields intersect, and none we know has dedicated more time and thought to different phenomena of interference. Nicolai himself spoke in an interview about why he actually resists the binary distinction between artist and researcher.
CN: If you look back to Renaissance times, it was not divided, this kind of looking for certain kind of knowledge. In today’s practice we have a much more specialized way of seeing things. I’m more attracted to this idea that the artist is in the same way a researcher it’s a kind of feedback system. So some scientific research and creative processes are very similar.
ER: Nicolai’s aim is never simply to present his audiences with the shiniest ‘next big thing.’ Instead, he delves into different environments of perception. He probes the slippage between the visible and the invisible, sound and sight, the audible and the inaudible.
LK: And his work with sound waves and water waves really does illuminate what we in this podcast mean by “art of interference.”
LK: What you hear are the sounds of wellenwanne, aka wavetub, a piece Nicolai first created in the early 2000s and has developed in various ways since. The original installation involved four aluminum trays.
ER: If that sounds hard to picture, maybe this label from the exhibition will help you:
JG: “Flat trays are filled with water, each resting on four loudspeakers, which transmit the sound compositions via vibrations onto the water surface. The various sound pieces, which are partly inaudible, vary for each tray so that the sound signals generate various changing interference patterns.”
LK: What you hear, as an observer, is the rumbling pulse of deep basses, frequencies you would sense deep in your gut at a higher volume. Then, you notice a very gradual increase in pitch.
ER: At first, what you see makes you think of being a kid: the pleasures of throwing rocks into a calm lake and triggering those concentric ripples that reflect and refract the daylight.
LK: Things turn out to be more complicated, however. In each of the tubs the water responds to four different sources of disturbance. Each source creates radiating patterns whose ripples eventually interfere with each other—as if you threw a bunch of pebbles into a quiet lake. In Nicolai’s set up, at times, this results either in very structured or in chaotic wave formations. At other times, when the ripples cancel each other out, it produces the impression of calm and stillness.
ER: So, what you get is a wild mix of constructive and destructive interference, right?
LK: Right! Nicolai is interested in things we see and things we don’t see, or things we hear and we don’t hear — the way we perceive the world around us, especially in comparison to other beings.
CN: Our ear is possible only to hear from, let’s say, 20 hertz to 20,000 hertz . . . Other living creatures have different frequency ranges. . . I’m very interested in the idea of visualization . . . that we can understand different invisible processes, who we not necessarily have senses.
LK: So, Nicolai’s work uses water to help us realize the way different beings operate on, shall we say, different wavelengths.
ER: Very fitting, I think. You know, when you snorkel or dive for the first time, what often strikes you is the silence of the world below the water’s surface. It’s really amazing.
LK: Personally, I’m particularly interested in how water often behaves pretty much like sound; you can use one medium to study the waves of the other.
ER: And that is precisely what Nicolai’s wavetub does.
LK: Right. At its most basic, it helps us visualize the physics of resonance and interference: the way in which acoustical vibrations, whether we can hear them or not, cause metal and water to vibrate —
ER: And then produce wave motions that impact each other.
LK: But wellenwanne is, of course, more than just a science project. It features interference, destructive or constructive, as a truly creative force – albeit an unpredictable one. The ripples in Nicolai’s piece generate these shifting shapes, volumes, and forms that create a kind of conversation between nature and technology, science and art.
CN: I love the idea that nature can execute the final result. Maybe I only have to provide the right context, the right technical setting. And that’s the reason I’m very careful with the. Because I only can create that process that nature executes things for me when I have the right setting.
ER: So, the visualization of those patterns in wavetub – interference patterns, really — is anything but a mere science experiment.
LK: No, it’s much more than that. By playing with water as a medium, Nicolai invites his viewers to listen with their eyes and to look at things with their entire bodies. Nothing here is just active or passive, nothing here simply determines or is being determined by another thing. The water listens to the sound, as much as the sound uses the water as medium to spread out. All this results in us expanding our understanding of the nature of waves and of what it means to listen to the world. And it also challenges our ideas of what it means to be a listener.
ER: Can you say that again, but, like, I don’t know… less… academic?
LK: Ha! Sure – Sorry if I got carried away. What matters most about wellenwanne, in my view, is that one medium here doesn’t overwhelm or overtake the other. The combination of acoustic and aquatic interference actually forms something altogether new and different.
ER: A third wave, if you will.
LK: I will! See, normally we think of disturbance as something unwelcome, right? Something bad. But Nicolai’s art is arguing that interference is really what makes the world tick. It’s not solely destructive or constructive, but generative – able to produce something new.
CN: So we, when we are dealing with art, we are creating of course a lot of images and we have this opportunity with these images to imagine things; the imaginary is a very important aspect.
TH: Okay, Tori here.
ML: And Maren, too.
TH: Coming to you live from the editing room with some, hmm, let’s say… constructive interference.
ML: To think of interference and disturbance as something creative, as a form of collaboration, attunement, and entanglement, sounds pretty nice. But there’s also the long-standing, more mainstream understanding of interference as—
TH: — An unwanted act of interruption?
ML: [sighs] Right. We typically think of interference as that which obstructs; this thing we impose on others in order to further our own agenda.
TH: Or vice versa. But the bottom line is this: interference is rarely conceived of as something desirable. It has a lot of negative connotations. At least in the West, we’ve long been shaped by the philosophical idea of interference as a violation of individualism; something that’s unethical, politically objectionable.
ML: As a way to suppress the autonomy and self-determination of, shall we say, the liberal bourgeois subject.
TH: It’s kind of a trademark of Western thought, especially post-Enlightenment.
JG (as Thomas Hobbes): “Liberty”
TH: Hobbes wrote in his Leviathan in 1651,
JG (as Hobbes): “… to define it, is nothing other than the absence of impediments to motion.”
TH: And here’s John Locke in his Second Treatise on Government in 1689:
JG (as John Locke): “The natural liberty of man is to be free from any superior power on earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man, but to have only the law of nature for his rule.”
TH: In Western thought, an individual’s freedom and liberty is typically defined by the absence of interference. Libertarian ideology today takes this idea to its extreme. It’s kind of the foundational principle behind the idea of small government.
ML: In the West in particular, interference is synonymous with the public possession of private land and goods. Locke felt that the state of nature was one in which people could unfold their lives without impediments—
TH: —and that an impedimentless life was actually what it meant to be human in the first place. But that belief gets messy pretty quickly once you move from the theoretical sphere and into actual society.
ML: It’s a long way from here to think about interference as something that isn’t combative, don’t you think?
TH: Reconceptualizing interference as something that precedes liberty and actually defines our position as co-dependent beings on this planet – that’s a pretty big ask. And a pretty daunting one.
LK: True enough, you guys. But the idea of redefining interference is actually kind of the whole point here.
ER: Right, the idea of human liberty as an absence of unwanted interference goes hand in hand with very utilitarian approaches to both the human and the non-human world. “Don’t mess with me” also means “allow me to build a fence around my land! extract resources from the earth to meet my needs! approach nature or whatever is other as mere resource for my own progress, success, profit, and well-being!”
LK: We don’t mean to oversimplify here. But this particular understanding of both liberty and possessive individualism not only created our climate emergency – it also makes it impossible to deal with and adjust to the interferences posed by our present climate challenges.
ER: And if we fail to retune this idea of what it is to be human, if we refuse to heed the planet’s call to rethink what it means to act and be acted upon in this world, if we don’t develop a new understanding of what it is to interfere… then we won’t make any headway in addressing the challenges of climate change.
LK: Because by definition, any effort to impose carbon taxes and caps on emissions are of course forms of interference as well. But it’s not about simply the destruction of coal mines or the construction of wind turbines – it’s about the generative power of these many interferences in combination. About new systems of collaboration and a different image of power – both electrical and political.
LK: You know, all this talk of interference is making me think of another thing you might have learned in physics class, Emma. What do you know about the double-slit experiment?
ER: You asked me about this before we started recording and I gotta say, my C+ performance is really not doing me any favors here. So I conducted some very professional, Vanderbilt University-approved research. Which is to say, I watched a YouTube video about it.
LK: Ah, you are such an inspiration to undergraduates.
ER: I’ll just let science teacher Dave Farina, aka Professor Dave, do the explaining.
Dave Farina: In 1801 Thomas Young performed experiments where light was passed through a plane with two slits in it, striking a screen beyond the defraction and interference patterns that resulted clearly supported the wave model of light …
Dave Farina: In 1801 Thomas Young performed experiments where light was passed through a plane with two slits in it, striking a screen beyond. The defraction and interference patterns that resulted clearly supported the wave model of light …But in 1905, Einstein solved the problem of the photo electric effect by assigning particle nature to light thus wave particle duality was born.
ER: So what’s the point here, exactly? Well, it turns out that this 20th century version of the slit and interference experiment demonstrated…
DF: . . . the wave like properties of electrons and by extension matter in general… making the wave like nature of the electron undeniable.
ER: In plain English: depending on your approach, you can view light as either a wave or a particle. One designation isn’t necessarily more accurate than the other.
LK: Right – so interference is not at all about one thing causing or controlling the movement of the other.
ER: Or the need, as Hobbes or Locke wanted it to be, to protect a person or an object from being disturbed by others.
LK: Exactly. And as Doctor Dave just told us, modern physicists in fact use the term of interference when they can no longer really tell what causes certain outcomes.
ER: Interference, in other words, is what happens when causation itself is in question and no longer dictates the shape of things. It stresses messy entanglements, it is about ambiguity instead of unquestionable determination and impact.
LK: Which is exactly what the waves in Carsten Nicolai’s installation tell us as well, and why I think they serve as a good model to rethink what it means to be human in face of climate change. As philosopher Michel Serres puts it:
JG (as Michel Serres): “Conquered, the world is finally conquering us.”
LK: But in order to really address rising sea levels and warming temperatures, we may need to abandon the whole idea of conquering. We have to stop thinking of every entity first and foremost as separate. We must redefine our relationship to other beings…
ER: … And think of interference as that which produces a vibrant worldwide ecosystem of co-determinant forces and entities. As something that is creative, generative – regardless of whether we call it constructive or destructive.
LK: Climate change ultimately calls for a redefinition of interference not as exploitation and control but instead as the very force which calls for us to cede those desires.
ER: After all, l think we should also include obligations to the future and the non-human world in our ideas of liberty.
LK: I agree. And artists like Carsten Nicolai provide models for this. Nicolai’s art primarily wants to set up frameworks in which nature can unfold way beyond his control and intention. For him, sound and water are media that question existing ideas of autonomy, control, nature, and—yes—interference.
ER: You know, I don’t think my high school physics teacher really thought about interference in this way.
LK: I bet they did. They just needed the work of a good artist to visualize it for them.
LK: Of course, Carsten Nicolai is far from the only artist whose work used waves to think about the relation of mind and matter and the place of the human in the larger order of things. Consider Katsushika Hokusai’s famous 1831 woodblock print The Great Wave of Kanagawa, probably one of the most reproduced prints in the world. I am sure you have seen it somewhere.
ER: Hokusai pictures an enormous wave—often interpreted as a Tsunami—in the moment before it crashes onto three fishing boats, with Mount Fuji towering in the far distance. It’s often seen as a symbol of the overpowering force of nature, of its indifference to the fragile trajectories of humanity.
LK: In 2022, Krakow-based Korean artist Si On referenced Hokusai’s woodprint in her installation Doomsday at a museum in Venice. She assembled three tons of discarded clothes and other consumer items into a monumental wave. It’s frozen mid-roll like Hokusai’s, symbolizing the threat humanity has come to impose on itself: a wave of environmental self-destruction that will not stop even for the tiny shrines of worship On has placed amid the turbulent waters of capitalist consumption.
ER: In addition to Hokusai and those he inspired, there are also pieces like the wave organ, a tide-activated acoustic sculpture located on a jetty in the San Francisco Bay. The wave organ was developed by Peter Richards in the early 1980s and installed in 1986 in collaboration with sculptor and master stone mason George Gonzalez. The organ includes 25 pipes made of PVC and concrete, located at various elevations to accommodate the rise and fall of the tides. The movement of water in the bay creates subtle sounds, best heard at high tide.
Peter Richards: I just wanted to figure out a way to use the energy of the waves to generate sound or music.
LK: This is Peter Richards himself, speaking humbly about his project years after its installation. Water, as we talked about in our previous episode on Fujiko Nakaya’s fog art, can be a curator’s nightmare in a gallery space. It’s one thing to display art representing waves and water; it’s another thing altogether to allow water to enter the space of the museum, with all its mandates for building climate control and often delicate architecture and infrastructure.
ER: So, from the perspective of the gallery world, Richards’s effort to tap the wave’s energy, to audify the waves on location, feels much safer.
LK: But it’s still an extremely ambitious project. It continues a long tradition, often deeply romantic in nature, to transform the wind into a musical instrument with so-called wind harps, or Aeolian harps, to use the Greek term for wind. Not only do wind harps produce soothing tones, but they also imaginatively listen to the inaudible voice of god, the elements.
ER: Wind harps and wave organs position art as a laboratory, a medium to attend to the uncontrollable forces of nature. They ask art to approximate nature.
LK: And so it does. The subtle tones of Richards’ wave organ have no foreseeable script or rhythm; like Nicolai, Richards created a framework and set a process in motion, but he has no control over what’s next — what the waves do, or how they interfere with the pipes and our ears.
ER: But the sounds of Richards’ wave organ don’t crush us. Unlike Hokusai’s great wave, they don’t appeal to the romantic language of the sublime. What they do, however, is ask us to think of interference as something that is all about expanded or unexpected forms of listening. The wave organ compels us to listen for what is typically unheard, to hear nature in its own language.
LK: It makes me wonder: when you throw a few pebbles into a lake and create ripples that eventually interfere with each other, does the water listen to the pebbles as much as we Iisten to waves at the jetty of the San Francisco Bay?
ER: Okay, Confucius.
Karin Amimoto IngersolI: I’m a surfer and I interact with the ocean. But this interaction has really evolved for me over my lifetime.
LK: This is Karin Amimoto Ingersoll, an independent scholar, writer, and of course surfer based in Honolulu, Hawaii. Karin holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. Her book Waves of Knowing approaches the ocean, its waves, and surfing from the perspective of Hawaii’s indigenous people, the Kanaka Maoli.
KAI: The ocean really embraces me like an ancestor, uh, bringing me back into an awareness of my historical relationships with the sea and my ability to relocate, my sense of self inside the sea. When I enter the ocean, . . . my skin feels the chill of the wind or the spray of the, the ocean and my nose inhales salt. And, my ears haer the purr or the roarer or the waves. And so I realized that before I entered the ocean, no matter. I just try to have a small acknowledgement, um, of how my body can breathe in the rhythms of the waves before I dive into them.
LK:Karin is adamant about claiming and reclaiming surfing as a local practice, a way of knowing the sea that has resisted two centuries of colonialism, militarism, and tourism. She is quite critical about the destructive and neo-colonial aspects of global surfing culture today. She has little patience with the relentless circuits of international surfing competitions and tourists chasing the thrill of big waves, even if they present their efforts as being in synch with the forces of nature. For her, surfing is as much a spiritual as a physical practice, an art of knowing
the world that deeply resonates with native cosmologies:
KAI: If we look at the word for surfing, “He’e Nalu” in Hawa’ii, we see “He’e”, which can mean octopus, but it can also mean to spread out to, slide surf slip, to put to flight, flow. “Nalu” can mean wave surf, full of waves to form waves, to ponder, to meditate, reflect, mull ove,r speculate. So “He’e Nalu” is about sliding into thisponderous state of thinking and theorizing about the world through a specific context
LK: To be good at surfing, you need to be good at letting go and allowing the elements to guide you. To tap into the waves’ energy, their rhythm, to find some point of synchronization.
KAI: It’s putting to flight the formation of waves. So when surfing, the surfer center moves with the sliding sea tapping into its energy. You know, the surfer relinquishes control by immersing herself in the mercurial place of the sea. . . The surfer is stitched into the passages of the world.
LK: So surfing is really less about searching for a state of alignment than about being able to recognize it once it’s there. You can’t want it, this state. The art is in sensing this possible alignment with the waves when they come to you, in seeing how this instinct is part of what, ultimately, defines you as you.
TH: Me again. This sounds nice, but I mean, how is what you’re saying really any different from what I’m always hearing from surfer dudes? Surfing as a way of life? Surfing as the art of going with the flow? As a way of immersing yourself in something that is bigger than you alone?
LK: That’s a fair question. I have no bone to pick with your ordinary surfer dude. If I understand Ingersoll right, however, what she calls seascape epistemology—our knowing of the sea—never really pivots around the surfer due alone.
KAI: A seascape of epistemology is an approach to knowing presumed on a knowledge of the sea, which tells one how to move through the sea, how to approach life and knowing through the movements of the world based off of a visual, spiritual, and intellectual and embodied literacy of the seascape.
LK: You don’t simply become a surfer and ride the waves. You can’t just take your board anywhere and embrace surfing as your style of life. Instead, the waves, the ocean, the seascape need to find you first. It’s a cosmological experience not a personal one, and it requires a lot of local sensibilities.
KAI: When I speak of the seascape, I’m speaking of it from a native Hawaiian perspective, which includes the clouds, the fish, the currents, the ocean depths.
TH: So, surfing can be much more than just a hobby or even a sport. It’s really a way of reading – a kind of oceanic literacy, a skillful form of listening that requires practice. Surfers, more than the rest of us, are fully aware of the fact that the waves– and, really, the whole universe – read and listen to us as well. Surfing is a way of recognizing the connectedness of everything. Of the spiritual and the material, the fact that nothing ever exists in isolation.
LK: If you surf with Karin, what you learn is nothing less, and nothing more, than the art of interference.
TH: Hmm. My academic teacher-brain is thinking that surfing would actually be a really great approach to teaching this whole concept. A lesson on surfing could be kind of an interactive way to get kids more physically and spiritually in tune with the elements. To encourage a new way of thinking about physics.
LK: Hard to find in Tennessee, but as we know from the Eisbach in Munich we heard in our episode on fog, it’s not impossible.
TH: I can only imagine the epic wipeouts.
LK: And this kind of experiential learning is also integral to understanding how we might develop new, creative responses to our world of human-made climate change.
TH: Not to mention the importance of imparting lasting lessons on our students about the power to work with the elements, instead of against them. And with surfing, that lesson has the potential to be pretty humbling, too.
LK: You know, I’m starting to think you’re actually enjoying the idea of watching your students eat sand, Tori.
TH: You know what? No comment.
LK: At first glance, Carsten Nicolai’s wellenwanne couldn’t be more different than what Karin Amimoto Ingersoll envisions as the art and epistemology of he’e nalu, of sliding on a wave. Nicolai’s interest in interference is all about technology; his approach to waves is steeped in advanced Western science and post-Newtonian physics; surfing, as an art of interference that first emerged in 12th century Polynesia, is all about body and mind interacting with cosmic energies, with waves that exceed Western frameworks of understanding.
ER: And yet, in 2022 Nicolai developed an installation for the Munich Haus der Kunst called Transmitter Receiver: The Machine and the Gardener. And that work shows that Nicolai’s interest in sound and Ingersoll’s interest in surfing might actually meet somewhere in the middle after all.
LK: Transmitter Receiver was inspired by Japanese Zen Gardens, which are meant to represent the universe in miniature and allow visitors to recognize and attend to their patterns. Nicolai’s installation in Munich consisted of a Geiger counter measuring radioactive particles in the air, a rooftop antenna picking up sound waves from the cosmos, cosmic noise as it were, which is then modulated into audible sound; and a light sculpture that responds with different color schemes to the acoustical impulse.
ER: All of this is brought together in a gallery setting that invites the viewer to experience the setup like a Zen garden — and meditate on the presence of cosmic waves and energies in this very specific local setting.
CN: So, I’m actually referring to a very large, macroscopic structure which of course, at the same time, also requires a change of perspective, that we see ourselves as an insanely small planet in such a universe, although we locate ourselves here in this room right now and probably don’t feel this relationship to the universe all the time. But this macroscopic/microscopic, this interaction, has always been very exciting for me in my work. When I actually started to deal with sound, at some point you realize that it is really only about frequencies, about certain frequencies, similar to working with color or working with light. That is, we can only perceive a very specific frequency range. With sound it is exactly the same. And there are an incredible number of frequencies that lie in-between which we cannot perceive at all, but which are very important for ourselves.
ER: Like much of his other work, with Transmitter Receiver Nicolai once again offers a loose framework that purposefully leaves its variables up to chance; it relinquishes the artist’s sense of control. Nicolai even asked the museum’s staff and their curators to enter the exhibition space at irregular intervals, to rearrange a number of black spheres that are scattered across the floor and to draw new wave patterns into the crystalline salt that covers the ground.
LK: I unfortunately didn’t get to witness this gardening exercise when I visited the show in 2022. It was one of those hot summer days, so maybe staff members were meant to get a break from the heat. But the point of staff interference reminds us not only of the art involved in gardening itself, but also the etymological root of the word to curate, of being a curator: that is, to take care of or look after something, to attend to a thing in order to treat or cure it, to encourage its growth.
ER:The modern art world of course thinks of curators as powerful players who gather and assemble art and exert huge control over what and how we encounter things in galleries and museums. But if we follow the word’s original meaning, we might think more of them as gardeners. My grandfather is a great gardener and bonsai cultivator who mindfully attends to the growth of every green thing. At their best, gardeners and curators alike amplify what would otherwise remain inaudible or hidden.
LK: As anyone with a ‘green thumb’ will tell you, gardeners succeed when they manage not to control but to attune to and gently shape the plants entrusted to them. They must encounter the world as stewards, not as engineers. No one knows this better than Carsten Nicolai, who, as it turns out studied landscape design in the late 1980s in Dresden:
CN: That’s when I remembered the original term curator. And the curators were also very positive that they actually became part of a work of art. I think it’s quite nice that it has a certain liveliness, so to speak, yes, on a bit of a human level. Curiously enough, I think for me it’s actually the first time that I’m taking up this garden theme again, which I actually studied, With this work, I’m actually for the first time building a clear reference to the gardens again, that is, a very visible reference.
LK: So, contemporary artists and curators, as envisioned by Nicolai, and indigenous surfers, as described by Karin Ingersoll, have more in common than one might think.
ER: Right. They all tap into the energy of waves–water waves, sound waves–not to exert control over or reengineer our planet, but as way to reveal what typically remains hidden, to know our planet, our cosmos, and our rather limited place within it.
LK:Yes, and what they share is a view of interference as generative, as something that suggests new—or very old—ways of acting in and being acted upon in a world — ways that do not simply pivot around us humans.
ER: Peter Richards’ and George Gonzalez’s wave organ, Nicolai’s Transmitter Receiver and wave-tub, Karin Ingersoll’s notion of seascape epistemology: they all call for us to listen. They ask us to observe rather than dominate. To slide along with the current, rather than fighting against it. To collaborate with the elements rather than to conquer them.
LK:Yes, and what they share is a view of interference as generative, as something that suggests new—or very old—ways of acting in and being acted upon in the world — ways that do not simply pivot around us humans.
ER: Peter Richards’s and George Gonzalez’s wave organ, Nicolai’s Transmitter Receiver and wavetub, Karin Ingersoll’s notion of seascape epistemology: they all call for us to listen. They ask us to observe rather than dominate. To slide along with the current, rather than fighting against it. To collaborate with the elements rather than to conquer them.
LK: To see how, like the ripples on a lake that form ever different, unpredictable patterns, the beauty of the elements lies in their very interference with one another.