Photo: Landsat 7 Reveals Large-scale example of a Kármán vortex street pattern in clouds. Image courtesy Bob Cahalan, NASA GSFC

Alexander Moll & Jackie Wang

Vorticity in the Eternal Hum

Vorticity in the Eternal Hum is a presentation on the acoustic poesis of the von Kármán vortex street, by way of Alice Coltrane’s aeolian harp. Jackie and Alexander will consider the relationship between the eternal hum of the oceanic beloved and the persistence of vorticity in fluid dynamics. 

“We’d like to talk about the Kármán vortex street—a pattern of vortices that is responsible for the ethereal sound produced by aeolian harps, or when the wind blows through telephone wires. I’ve been obsessed with an anecdote about how Alice Coltrane came to play the harp. After John Coltrane died, a harp he had ordered when he was still alive arrived. It sat by a window un-played, and she would listen to the sound made by the wind when it blew through the strings. She decided to learn the harp as an act of bereavement... reading through some of her spiritual writings I’m realising that this little story is connected to her whole sonic philosophy…” - Jackie Wang

Jackie Wang is a student of the dream state, black studies scholar, prison abolitionist, poet, performer, library rat, trauma monster and author of Carceral Capitalism: “one of the most wide-ranging, critical, and theoretically nuanced examinations of the political economy of the carceral state in the USA to date” - Socialist Project. She is the author of a number of punk zines including On Being Hard Femme, as well as a collection of dream poems titled Tiny Spelunker of the Oneiro-Womb.


Jackie took part in Episode 9: Other World’s Already Exist.


Alexander Moll studies quantum chaos and the gnarly waves at the edges of things. He is currently a teacher and post-doctoral researcher in mathematics at Northeastern University and previously studied at the Institut des Hautes Études Scientifiques near Paris, which was the academic home to two of the 20th century’s coolest mathematical minds, Alexander Grothendieck and René Thom.


Study Session General Info


Study Sessions are informal, slightly more intimate spaces and a chance to geek out. Some might be presentations, some might be workshops; each will open out the ideas and themes in the Episode, led by people who’ve been considering them for ages. This one is about the interconnectedness of Alice Coltrane’s harp and the waves at the edges of things.


Image Description: A Nasa satellite image of a weather system. In Black and White, clouds are blown past a small island, and form into the oscillating patter of the Kármán vortex street -- a repeating pattern of swirling vortices, caused by a process known as vortex shedding, which is responsible for the unsteady separation of flow of a fluid around blunt bodies. The image is very detailed and shows high-contrast cloud formations.

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