Captivating Simulations Explore the Beauty and Raw Power of Waves

Using abstraction, Memo Akten's 'Waves 2015' reflects on the mood and reactions after the attacks on Paris last November.

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26 February 2016, 3:05pm


GIF by Memo Akten (via)

The oceans and waves have long-inspired artists, from the famous Japanese woodblock print by Hokusai The Great Wave off Kanagawa, to contemporary artists like Memo Akten. Akten has recently released the video documentation for the latest in his Waves series. Begun in 2014, Akten says the series was inspired both by the artistic heritage and scientific study of the oceans and waves. 

The first in the series Waves 2014 was "a data dramatisation of complex ocean simulations, distilled and re-imagined in the form of abstract visuals and sounds." Akten calls it an exploration of the dual nature of waves which he says are "simultaneously mighty yet delicate; calming yet terrifying; graceful yet violent; a symbol of fear, danger and death as well as hope, freedom and life."

The latest in the series, Waves 2015 was produced days after the grim attacks on Parisian bars, restaurants, and the Bataclan that happened last November. The world was in shock as the grisly and terrifying details emerged in the following days, especially the firsthand accounts. As such Akten said in tweets when he began making the new piece that "somehow this one ended up a lot darker and more turbulent."


GIF by Memo Akten (via)

It was also informed not just by the tragedy of the attacks but also the subsequent knee-jerk cry for bloody revenge through blanket bombing. "Made during the aftermath of the tragic November 2015 Paris killings," Akten explains on his website, "and the consequent public and political thirst to bomb Syria in retaliation, which in turn would inevitably trigger an opposing retaliation."

Being black and white, it's more solemn in tone than the intricate colors of the first one, with the simulated waves crashing and clashing as in a storm. It plays to the idea that Akten states he wanted the series to use "the tools of science as a lens to the world" and it also becomes a protest, through abstraction, at the UK's response to bomb Syria.


Image: Memo Akten (via)

For more info on Waves 2015 visit Akten's website.

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