Île Flottante
Floating Island

‘Can you imagine combining your study into the nature of the world with the idea of the jester or fool?’
‘If I did, it would turn a lot of things upside down.’
‘Does Stephen Hawking fit in here?’
‘Why not?’
‘Because I can’t imagine his sort of faith in the scientific process.’
‘Do you mean faith literally?’
‘I think that it is literal for him. He says he is trying to find the mind of God.’
‘I don’t agree with that.’
‘That’s what he said though.’
‘I know he said that, but nevertheless I disagree.’
‘The way he presents himself has nothing to do with it. It’s just a romantic idea of solving the world’s problems – when no such solution exists.’
‘The terms that he uses, the principles underlying his ideas will not lead to a solution to the problem. It’s like trying to find the meaning of an English word by looking in a Dutch-German dictionary. You might get close, but you will never really find it.’
‘Do you think there is a limitation?’
‘When you use the word limitation, do you really mean limitation?
Why couldn’t it be a starting point?’
‘Hawking got stuck, eventually.
‘I’m obsessed with pre-Christian religions now. Didn’t he want to make megaliths?’
‘Mega – whats?’
‘Structures that mark the ground, like Stonehenge. Like the temples in Mexico.’
‘Not that I know of.’
‘That seems something for someone like Robert Smithson.’
‘No, Smithson was preoccupied with the idea of entropy.’
‘And entropy has nothing to do with holy ground or the creation of sacred landmarks.’
‘He made a film about Spiral Jetty, an important work of his, from a helicopter. Circling around in the air he wanted to be in the centre of the sun at the same time as filming his work.’
‘Wasn’t that the cause of the accident that killed him?’
‘If you could only die like that as an artist!’
‘In the middle of a real struggle with the work and then you die. Beautiful.’
‘The James Dean principle.’
‘At the same time you see the failure. Though in terms of entropy I can imagine he was interested in the spiral.’
‘I very much love his ‘Study for a floating island around Manhattan Island’ from 1970.’
‘Explain the word entropy for me.’
‘Entropy for scientists is the second law of thermodynamics.’
‘I see it as the principle that all energy necessary to be born, is exactly the same as we need for living and dying.’
‘Which means that there is actually no development.’
‘And yet we grow up with the idea that something like paradise exists, and that there is a linear development in our culture.’
‘I don’t really like sex every day.’
‘Everything always gets better, but in the end things don’t really get better. They change a little bit, but then again they don’t actually change.’
‘They move.’
‘Only the form changes slightly.’
‘Would you like another cigaret?’
‘Back to the idea of entropy. If there were no development, then we would still live in bear skins, which is not the case.
‘So the whole idea of entropy doesn’t apply.’
‘If I were to illustrate my interpretation of entropy, I would use a series of circles, that would merge here and there.’
‘Minimal changes?’
‘From one circle to the other.’
‘You can imagine that the areas between those different circles are actually more interesting than the circles themselves. Those spots where two circles touch are interesting, because there you can see two different worlds, two different areas, while you’re not yet part of either.’
‘This is very close to the idea of entropy.’
‘The most interesting combination of circles is the so called parallactic triangle.’
‘Isn’t the parallactic triangle a triangle with three concave, or is it convex, sides? They are all the same and bulging?’
‘For me this parallactic triangle is a basic illustration of my way of thinking. I often talk about black holes, which again is an idea ‘stolen’ from science.’
‘I think I could do with another beer.’
‘The idea of the black hole is interesting, because it relates perfectly to the idea of entropy and it illustrates the scientific idea of all energy vanishing.’
‘Not even light can escape’
‘Would you say so’?
‘I’m thinking in more romantic terms. The words that spring to mind are paradise and escape’
‘That’s interesting. I’d rather think of a hoover.’
‘I went to a lecture of Stephen Hawking in Cambridge once, years ago. He was talking about black holes in the lecture. At the end he explained the huge forces of gravity around black holes to the point where time itself is stretched. He suggested that if a particle went into a black hole that, because of entropy and the maintenance of the energy level, it would also have to come out at some point.’
‘I have never believed that everything vanishes into a black hole. That’s why I call it the principle of the hoover. ‘
‘The bag gets full.’
‘I suppose that the black hole is actually a tunnel. A tunnel to a different dimension. At a certain moment I came across a book that reproduced a drawing of the ‘Einstein-Rosen Bridge’. I didn’t quite understand what it meant but for me it was the perfect illustration of the principle of a black hole.
‘Maybe we cannot imagine yet that at a certain point we can go through that tunnel instead of going to the moon or to Pluto.’
‘All these ideas about entropy, black holes, Einstein Rosen bridges, they all lead back to the idea of being in-between. My interest lies in being at the borderline between two different ideas or two different cultures.’
‘You can illustrate that with a dinner.’
‘You make me curious.’
‘You want food, so you start eating: olives, little crackers, bread, you order some wine. Before you know it, you get drunk, at least if the restaurant is smart enough. Then the first dish comes. You’re really greedy. But the real dinner only starts after that. You are just full enough not to be completely focused on eating anymore. You are with people – so you are in the middle of a certain conversation. You are waiting, you know that something else is coming. So you don’t need to worry. This situation allows you an enormous freedom. The quality of the conversation rises. It’s a situation I really like. This weird in-between situation in which you don’t have to worry anymore about the fulfillment of your direct needs, and you know there’s more to come. That gives you the opportunity to move. There is no direct aim. As soon as you try to focus, you stop moving. If you try to find the borderlines, you will never find them. But I agree that I am hungry. And you?’
‘Not really.’
‘I am.’
‘Always hungry?’
‘The conclusion of Stephen Hawking’s talk – which is interesting in relation to what you’ve said – is that he suggested that black holes could be means of time travel. Not of travelling from one dimension to the other, but of one time to another.’
‘It’s interesting that he focuses completely on time which is his speciality, because in science you cannot make a projection about what the universe is.’
‘I don’t know anything about science, I just use my imagination and I make up stories.’
‘Which is great to do.’
‘They don’t tell you much, and they don’t really mean anything, but at the same time I can tell them.’
‘Of course, and that is exactly what Smithson did.’
‘I wouldn’t want to put it that way.’
‘No, that’s right.’
‘But I think your green T-shirt is beautiful.’
‘It’s a beautiful colour.’