20/20 vision

The musician in me is exploring sound, (dis)harmony, rhythm, composition. The artist in me is investigating form, aesthetics, layers, patterns, relations; examining action and reaction. The philosopher in me is seeking why, exploring new roads, coming up with new and better questions.

They all question. They are all searching, driven by curiosity and astonishment over what they encounter and what comes their way. Their focus is on letting go, on doubt, contingency, entropy, the future. This is what being an artist for me is about: you don’t know. You find.

One of the things I’ve found is that, contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as time. Time as such does not exist, there is only duration. It’s hard for us humans to contemplate, but the world we live in knows no time. We are time. We humans bring time with us: the time each one of us has, the clock that is ticking in us, back to zero, measuring for us everything as duration, as bits of change on a scale of how much life we have.

For centuries philosophers were the go-to person for the bigger questions in life. Nowadays, with science being our prime religion, scientists are regarded as the ones who know it all. Except they often don’t. Consider Bergson versus Einstein: it was the philosopher who corrected the scientist. Philosophers can tell you a lot about the matter of time, but if you want a scientist’s view there’s Carlo Rovelli for instance, who discovered and empirically established that at quantum level the factor Time does not exist; it simply isn’t there and isn’t necessary either. Time is a byproduct.

We humans are a byproduct as well. We assume our head registers an objective reality, that we are continuously and consciously present (in the present — what’s in a name) and are perceiving everything around us as it is. But that is not the case. We experience the world and during this experience we credit ourselves with much more truth and influence than there actually is and we actually have.

Time, life, consciousness: there is no straight linear line; our brain makes up a presence and continuity for us. We need that to hold on to, to make our live liveable. Color, sound, objects, everything we think we see, it isn’t actually there, it doesn’t exist, at least not in the way we assume. What is actually there we cannot register or comprehend. We haven’t got the tools for that. We construct our own reality out of images, reflections, interpretations we can understand, signals our senses can detect which our brain translates into a story, into our reality. We think up our live.

This thought up reality — or realities — certainly are a reality, but not the reality we generally assume. It is not real, and then again it is. It is what we create. This makes our role a different one than we generally think; modest, in any case. We should be able to realise this when we imagine us on this tiny earth in the huge universe. But that image is too complicated for us as well, so we see it differently.

We don’t see what’s there, and what we see isn’t there.

For some time now I’ve been cutting up stills and moving images to investigate among other things the aspects of time and movement, the apparent linearity. New techniques like granular synthesis now make it possible to do this with sound as well. I sample and adjust sound waves, manipulate them, shorten or lengthen pieces of mere milliseconds and mix them up, reorder them in time. Reorder time.

However, time and space do not restrict themselves to where you physically happen to be. I want to intervene even further.

Over the past few years and together with others I have developed an internet-of-things operating system we’ve named LANDSCAPE. With this system I can combine and control audio, video, light, frankly almost any electric or electronic device over the internet, enabling me to influence time and space on a crazy scale. The world is now my studio. Birdhouse was a first step, with the new Auditor project I can do a lot more.

I find it incredibly exciting to see how the world can be divided into many tiny parts and mess around with them, what it reveals about the bigger picture and what role humans — no more and no less an orchestrated collection of such tiny parts themselves — actually have or can have in that.

There really is a lot we can learn from the past few months and the situation we are in. Not just the virus outbreak, the way we deal with it and the problems that come with it, but also how all over the world smouldering social issues suddenly seem to erupt. It tells us a great deal about our perspectives on reality and the world we inhabit. May you live in interesting times. Check. Thanks.

To me, the present situation reflects and underlines the relevance of my work. We need to investigate our role, we need to think about what we are and how we want to be and we need to adjust and change. Life is change, we are change.