Documentation of “Interferometry,” a multimedia improvisation created and performed by Christopher Burns. Performed and recorded in a single unedited take, June 3, 2019. Some text in “Interferometry” is excerpted from Michael Omi and Howard Winant’s book “Racial Formation in the United States” (Third ed. New York: Routledge, 2014).

“Interferometry” uses improvised electronic music and visuals to revisit Albert Michelson and Edward Morley’s notorious physics experiments from 1887. Michelson and Morley were convinced that an invisible “aether” conducted light waves. In an effort to reveal the postulated medium, they measured the speed of light to an extraordinary new level of precision. But they failed to understand that their results conclusively disproved the existence of aether. Interferometry considers this historical episode as a parable for contemporary society. What invisible structures surround us? Why do we believe in them, or fail to perceive them? What new evidence will it take to shift our perspectives, and change our minds?

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