Interference patterns, double-slit experiments and art?

a project associated with FUFF
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properties of this project
- students from different backgrounds join to form a dynamic group to study into the subject
- goals: observing and gaining knowledge on interference patterns, applying interference patterns in direct or as a conceptual metaphor
- complementary properties of this projects (FUFF) contain:
- ifuz net, who has invited to this project in the frame of 95qm project of Oguz Tatari (see below), is acting as a kind of transmitter/emitter (complementary to a lecturer or professor, as the FUFF does only know students). so ifuz net is giving impulses, not leading the project
- the use of 'project' and 'group' avoids the term 'seminar ', which is focussing on the similarity, while we are rather looking for complimentary forms
- (list t.b.c.)
Starting point
Interference patterns, examples:

examples: interference patterns in physics - waves
(useful link:

the most obvious form of waves we know is waves in water.
if we drop a stone into a pool of still water we will be able to observe expanding circular waves around the specific location.
if we drop two stones simultanously at two differnt spots we will be able to see two sets of expanding circular waves which sooner or later will clash with each other.
they will 'interfere'.
this is similar to the animation below:
two circular waves interfere (from wikipedia commons)

waves and interference can be described by mathematical functions, which to understand is not necessarily important for our purpose, but which exlplains the relation to the advanced physical phenomena from the quantum world we will see later.
we find those waves in acoustics, too, as we know, and as a possible property of light (again later)
so we have now already seen our first interference pattern here, a more complicated pattern which resulted from the interference of two simple patterns which each alone did not contain such complicated views.

a wave at a particular location can be described also as a function of time like in the graph below

a second wave which interferes can be just added.
as we have positive values and negative values, waves can cancel each other out in part or in whole, which is then called destructive interference (happens if one wave has a positive value and the other one has a negative value at the same time).
there will occur constructive interference as well, if both waves have positive values at the same time or have negative values at the same time, the will amplify each other.
(for us, as we are interested in the creation of new patterns, both variations can be viewed as being constructive of course)
cases of alternating constructive and destructive interference can include the special case of a 'schwebung', which is a wave with a longer amplitude 'surfing' on a wave with a short amplitude. it can be produced by adding two regular wives with slightly different amplitudes (frequencies).
'schwebung' is the german word for it, in english it seems to be referred to as 'beat' (

interfering waves

this has been our second example where a more compex pattern can result from the interference of two more simple patterns.

examples: moiré-patterns in physics - waves
(useful link:

many of us know moiré patterns from digital photography (or television)
we can show the effect with two simple patterns of parallel lines layed over each other.
the pattern in pink covered is similar to the black one through which we view it, it consists of simple parallel lines.
moire pattern
actually two interferences happen here:
many of us will see alternating pink and white horizontal stripes.
this is an interference by our cognition system, our brains are interpreting what we see and trying to match it to patterns we already know, which are moste likely, common, recent, or emotionally connected.
so our brain is suggesting there might be pink and white horizontal stripes underlying a covering grid of black stripes.
but there is an objective interference:
what can be seen by covering the pink grid with a black grid are sets of alternating small pink and white parallelograms in the spaces between the black bars.

moiré patterns can easily become complicated as the simple overly of two circle patterns suggests:
moire pattern
adding to the interference of the circles and the interpretation by our cognitive system, is the interference of the screen mask, which makes it difficult to display one circle pattern alone without moiré effects.

examples: interference by cognition
our cognition interferes by interpreting what we see
(example above)
another example is how former generations have seen faces in planets (esp. moon)
in a certain way this might lead again to the inevitable 'metaphors we live by' (lakoff/johnson)
pedro also mentioned the gestalt theories (
stuff enough for a dozen of university projects

examples: interference patterns in linguistics
(medium useful link:

the most obvious interference pattern in linguistic is when a native speaker of language1 speaks or bettern learns language2 when language2 has a (slightly) different structure.
immediately apparent is the phonological interference as two languages usually have differnt sets of distinguishing phonems, different melodies etc..
it can be realised more obvious when f.e. having a Japanese trying to speak English as a learner.
he has learned and hears in system mostly consisting of units of connected consonant and vocal. so he or she hears, tries to understand and to reproduce English 'viewing' through this interfering pattern.
so 'France' becomes 'Fu-Ra-N-Su'.
there is also syntactical interference and semantical/metaphoriacal interference.
(it might be one reason why Dutch coaches are so admired in German football, because their expression suggest new views, although actually their analysis might not be that more versatile.)
Interference patterns from the quantum world: wave particle duality and the double-slit-experiment:

the double-slit experiment
(useful link:

a very entertaining comic video to introduce here is this Dr. Quantum clip:

the original double-slit experiment was made in the beginning of the 19th century to prove that light consists of waves.
Thomas Young sent light through two parallel vertical slits onto a projection screen behind the screen with the slits.
What should be expected on the projection screen is of course two parallel vertical bands of light.
Instead the baffling result is an alternating pattern of vertical bright and dark bands of light, looking exactly as if two waves had been sent from the slits and interfering with each other like water waves.

source: wikipedia commons

strangewise later experiments by other scientists seemed to prove anyway that light consists of particles.
what was an impossible contradiction eventually was explained as indeed possible by the theories of quantum mechanics in the first half of 20th century.
this java applet demonstrates the experiment quite well:
it can be seen here why it is difficult to reproduce the experiment in a satisfactory manor with daylight or normal lamps. the actual variation of the interference pattern depends on tzhe wavelength of the light. white light is a mixture of light of all colors (light with different wavelengths). so with normal light we get different interference patterns blurring each other out. too much interference sotosay...
In the 20th century the double-slit experiment has been reproduced with electrons and similar experiments meanwhile have been successful even with atoms and a particular molecule.

While sending the particles through one slit results in a behaviour that is expected from particles of matter, sending them through two slits ends in a result which can be described exactly by mathematical functions describing waves. This phenomena is referred to as 'wave-particle duality'.

another exciting phenomena is the 'collapse of the wave function'. if a measuring device is installed at one of the slits, the electrons return to a result expected from a behaviour as matter: the wave function collapses and instead of the interference pattern indeed two simple bands are seen on the projection screen.
the 'interpretations' underlying in the dr.quantium clip linked to above are solely owed to the entertainment desire of the author(s), they are not based on scientific knowledge. electrons very unlikely 'feel watched' and change behaviour because of that.
starting to experiment with: the application of interference patterns idea, direct or metaphorical:

examples: interference patterns by a printer
(will follow).

examples: interference by a print medium
(will follow).

examples: interference by an abstract pattern with meaning
(vive la dictature example, will follow)

(marcuse ad example,
will follow)


first steps of the group:

reflection / analysis or experimental application
the initial meeting took place in the frame of Oguz Tataris 95qm project at the Atelier Frankfurt with 8 students from the local area. it has been the decisive eventual impulse to actually realize this project, and a big help in the moment other places (esp. the e57) were inaccessible because of the room situation.

the students of the first meeting seem more interested in the experimental application of the concepts, especially as a conceptual metaphor. for this the first step concluded has been to consider a subject for experiments with interference patterns from the individual perspective.

we will then form individual correspondence and dialogue units in ways which appear the most productive, and probably meet from time to time as a group, too..
any ways of communication will be useful: internet, phone and locally, meetings in the Experimental Bureau e57, or other places if the individuals decide so. a fixpoint may be sundays at 5 pm at the e57.

the group is still very open to join for more students (as usually not all students of the first meeting will be able to continue with the project).
yet the project had been advertised only locally but it is not restricted to location.

depending on the background and interest of the individual, students can also go into the direction of research of deeper knowledge into the suggested fields in which the concept interference patterns already exist, outspoken or unconcious.
this maybe in physics, in language, in music or acoustics in general, or in domains not mentioned here.
(from linguistiucs it might be an exciting impulse to try to distinguish syntax patterns form semantic patterns in other domains, too)
it maybe in art we can detect and collect examples of alreadyexisting applied interference patterns.

which leaves enough room for students with backgrounds in various domains.
or rather in any domain as other directions can be derived from the backgrounds and interests of any students who might additionally join the group.

the results of the reflecting students then can be confronted with the experimental ideas of the experimenting students and make the process more dynamic.

  results of the group:

first we gathered knowledge on classic interference patters and the concept itself.
in the next step we thought about more abstract levels of interference patterns.
in both we experimented with producing new interference patterns. among otherws. we xeperimented with printers .

there is a book with results that can be visited in the exhibition space of the Experimental Bureau e57