Destructive Interference

“Matter ‘is possessed of powers of attraction and repulsion’…  matter ‘ought to rise in our esteem, as making a nearer approach to the nature of spiritual and immaterial beings’… Matter is no more ‘incompatible with sensation and thought’ than with attraction and repulsion.  ‘The powers of sensation or perception and thought; are properties of  ‘a certain organized system of matter’” -Priestley

Destructive interference is a sculptural sound and light piece.  Outside of the installation space there are two elements, which lure the viewer into the space.  One is mangled and indiscernible sounds of people talking, which was compiled from a skype conversation.   The other is a curious red flickering pattern of light on the outside of the window. Inside,  there are two chairs facing each other as if they are engaging in a conversation.  There is a copper wire tied to both speakers.

A single beam of light travels directly through the two pieces of copper wire and shines onto a frosted window.  This is a recreation of the double slit experiment.   This experiment is a classic demonstration of constructive and destructive interference.  Constructive interference is when one wave combines with another to increase or average out the amplitude of the wave.  Destructive interference is when one wave combines with another to cancel the amplitude of the wave.  The areas in the pattern where there is no light is destructive interference.  It appears as if information is lost.

The fact that light can interact in a way that either strengthens or negates the waves, is not only an incredible phenomenon but a poetic representation of human behavior.  It seems as though we spend most of our lives in a pattern similar to a diffraction pattern.  Most of our lives we desire to fully communicate without knowing if we have been heard.  Language, either spoken or physical, exists between two people; it is a site where information is transferred. We are receptacles for cues, signals, and words coming from the other individual. Most of our experiences with other people are through the interpretation of information that they have transmitted.

Thought can be looked at as a “system of matter”, similar to sound –– sound is a system that vibrates particles of air.  In Destructive Interference I have combined the double slit phenomenon with Preistley’s ideas on thought and matter, referencing a system that interferes with itself.  Relationships rely on systems of physical and spoken language.  In many relationships, in spite of the level of intimacy, we often experience moments where the system of communication is not working.  Information transferred between us is misunderstood, unheard or unseen.


Destructive Interference Sound