Scalar Fields, 2019

— Album

In mathematics and physics, a scalar field associates a scalar value to every point in a space. The scalar may either be a mathematical number or a physical quantity. In this series of works the scalar is represented by the viewer within space and time.

Scalar Fields is a body of work encompassing audiovisual installation, prints, and sound works initiated in 2013. In these works I used the idea of the scalar field as a simple framework to experiment with time-based works that are not dependent on time when experienced.

I wanted to explore slowing down video to the point that change was imperceptible and create sound with no attack or decay, only sustain. My intent was to create a time-based piece that could be experienced more as a painting or sculpture could: a static object that gains meaning though prolonged observation.

I was interested in what would happen when the audience was given agency over their experience. As the series progressed, the concept drifted further and further from the title’s formal association with math or physics—instead the framework developed a life of its own.

This release documents the sound elements from two of the audiovisual installations in the series: Scalar Field (f9bf3b, fde3a7, 4183d7, 1f3a93) shown in Los Angeles in 2016 and Scalar Field (f89406, f2784b, f64747, f62459) shown at the Dancity Festival in Foligno in 2015.

Track Listing

  1. Scalar Field (yellow, blue, yellow)
  2. Scalar Field (orange, pink, orange)


Mastered by Lawrence English at Negative Space.

Read Reviews

  • Deux longues méditations dronesques de 20 minutes chacune, par un artiste qui persiste à surprendre dans sa perpétuelle évolution sonore qui a certainement atteint un point culminant avec son récent Slowly Dismantling, aussi chez Room40, mais dont je n’ai pas trouvé les mots pour en parler comme il se doit. Malgré des intentions et aussi une composition différentes, Scalar Fields arrive à accrocher l’attention dans des paysages solaires et définitivement oniriques, où la question du temps souvent centrale dans les travaux de Yann Novak se diffuse dans les espaces malléables si particuliers qu’il crée.
    — Tartine de Contrebasse

  • Last heard American artist Yann Novak on his Presence album around 2012, a work which was based around reprocessing digital files and transforming them into sound files. He was doing it in an art gallery context. Not too far apart in fact from today’s offering Scalar Fields (ROOM 40 DRM446), which is something to do with slowed-down video files. The album is part of a larger project involving art prints, sound art and the full-blown audio-visual installation thing. He entertains a basic paradox – a durational work that doesn’t really change very much during its duration. What he wants is a more or less static object of aesthetic contemplation that only really comes to life if you observe it for long enough. In the instances published here, we seem to be “hearing” the colours yellow, blue, orange and pink, colours which in the press note are indicated by their Hex Colour Codes. All of these clues point to a very process-heavy work, and one that’s very dependent on computers; the finished results are rather unchallenging, sluggish drones which on the surface might resemble conventional ambient sludgery, but in fact there’s more depth to it. It’s nice the way he manages to refuse conventional musical dynamics in favour of a steady, unchanging stasis.
    — Ed Pinsent, The Sound Projector

  • De Amerikaan Yann Novak, met als uitvalsbasis Los Angeles, is een eigenzinnige kunstenaar, componist en curator die thuis is in verschillende vakgebieden. Met behulp van onder meer geluid en licht gaat hij op zoek naar de mogelijke functies van deze materialen. Zo ziet hij ze als een katalysator voor ons bewustzijn en bekijkt welke invloed ze kunnen hebben op locatie, tijd en ruimte. Naast audiovisuele installaties en muziekuitvoeringen maakt hij ook gebruik van architecturale ingrepen, geluidsdiffusies, opnames en afdrukken. Het begrip scalar duidt in de ruimste zin op een gewoon getal. Het idee voor deze ‘Scalar Fields’ kwam er in 2013 toen Yann experimenteerde met het scalair veld als een eenvoudig raamwerk. De combinatie van geluidselementen en audiovisuele installaties laat hem toe om een op tijd gebaseerd werk te combineren met het ervaren van een schilderij of sculptuur. Door de bijna onwaarneembare veranderingen van de geluidsstructuur ontstaat een statisch object dat betekenis krijgt door langdurige observatie. Op deze ‘Scalar Fields’ staan twee geluidsfragmenten van elk twintig minuten. Ze zijn gelicht uit de zich door de jaren heen verder gevorderde serie van installaties. De eerste werd vertoond in Los Angeles in 2016, de tweede op het Dancity Festival in Foligno in 2015. Het valt inderdaad op dat het geluid dat dienst doet als ondersteuning bijna onmerkbaar veranderd en onbewust aanzet tot fixatie. Misschien wel in zijn soort de ultieme minimale muziekervaring.
    — Paul Van de gehuchte, Dark Entries

  • Another perceptual explorer, Yann Novak, seeks to heighten audience awareness of the moment via context and movement and construction of immersive spaces. Taking the scalar field as a framework to experiment with time-based works not experienced time-dependently, the Dragon’s Eye head sought to explore slowing down video to the point where change is imperceptible to create sound with no attack or decay, only sustain; his intent was production of a time-based piece to be experienced more like a static object like a painting or sculpture, gaining meaning via prolonged observation, to see what transpired from audience agency over experience. With the series’ progression the concept drifted further from the eponymous frame’s formal association with Maths/Physics, taking on a life of its own. Two installations, Scalar Field (f9bf3b, fde3a7 , 4183d7, 1f3a93 – or: yellow, blue, yellow), shown in LA (2016) and Scalar Field (f89406, f2784b, f64747, f62459 – or orange, pink, orange), from Foligno’s Dancity Festival (2015), are documented on Scalar Fields, their gradual evolutions barely perceptible, though compare-contrast of ends-beginnings is revealing.
    — Alan Lockett, Igloo Magazine

  • A queer interdisciplinary artist, composer and curator based in Los Angeles, Yann Novak describes his work as exploring notions of perception, context and movement through the construction of immersive spaces that seek to heighten the audience’s awareness of the present moment. To this end, he’s spent the last two decades creating audiovisual installations, performances and sound pieces intended to allow audiences to “reclaim the present moment and explore the politics of awareness”.

    This latest download only album ‘Scalar Fields’ from the extremely prolific producer on Room40 sees him continuing to pursue that goal by slowing down video-sourced sound to the point where change is imperceptible, thus creating ambient sound with no attack or delay, only sustain. Indeed, Novak describes his overall intent here as being “to create a time-based piece that could be experienced more as a painting or sculpture could – a static object that gains meaning through prolonged observation”.

    Built around two expansive tracks (each clocking in at exactly 20 minutes in length), this album manages to accomplish that task. As mentioned before, there’s little in the way of development here, with ‘Scalar Field (Yellow, Blue, Yellow)’ offering up an oceanic wash of layered drones that seems to slow time down to a crawl whilst bathing the listener in a blissful bath of ambient sound.

    In this case, distracted background listening simply won’t suffice; it’s only once give them your full attention that these tracks begin to reveal their full microtonal detail – much like moving closer to a piece of physical art to glimpse the tiny spatters of paint and subtle textural details. Give ‘Scalar Fields’ your undivided attention and time to work its magic, and you’ll be amply rewarded by the time this album finishes.
    — Chris Downton, Cyclic Defrost

  • Auch ganz großartig und außerweltlich zugleich sind die beiden endlosen Scalar Fields (Room40) von Yann Novak. ‘yellow, blue, yellow’ und ‘orange, pink, orange’ ist sanfte DroneKunst für Synästhetiker.
    — Karsten Zimalla, Westzeit

  • Splendida opera sonora per Yann Novak che pubblica in due lunghe tracce la soundtrack associata ad una sua installazione video. Un lungo drone, che sembra immutabile, ma che in realtà propone microvariazioni che però, e qui sta il bello, non si comprende se sono realizzate dall’artista o se invece sono frutto della mente e della sensibilità emotiva di ciascun ascoltatore. Anche il video che accompagna questo lavoro si caratterizza, a detta dello stesso Novak, come opera semi-statica che, come un flusso continuo, rapisce lo spettatore che diventa a sua volta l’esecutore di ciò che sta percependo. Scalar non annoia con il suo dolce fluire che tocca corde emozionali senza mai risultare ostico. PREZIOSO.
    — Gianluca Polverari, Rockerilla

  • Прошедшее 08 марта, помимо самого праздника, ознаменовалось приятным музыкальным событием. Американский музыкант Yann Novak, чье имя не понаслышке известно фанатам drone / ambient электроники, выпустил новый альбом Scalar Fields в аналогичных жанрах.

    В послужном списке Яна значится много лейблов, на которых он успел издаться, но среди всех предающих самому музыканту какой-никакой статус, особняком стоит британский Touch, где была выпущена его предыдущая работа The Future Is A Forward Escape Into The Past и на котором издавался видный представитель эмбиент-музыки Biosphere.

    Говоря о новом релизе Новака, который получил название «Скалярные поля», стоит отметить, что он состоит из восьми треков, длительностью по пять минут каждый. Композиции содержат звуковые элементы из двух аудиовизуальных инсталляций, первая из которых была показана в итальянском городе Фолиньо в 2015 году, а вторая – в Лос-Анджелесе в 2016-м. По словам самого музыканта, он хотел создать произведение, которое бы воспринималось слушателем как картина или скульптура.

    Сама музыка же получилась в лучших традициях drone / ambient и действительно похожей на арт-объект. Основывающаяся на одной единственной ноте и довольно-таки статичная, она способна погружать в глубины неизведанных океанов, заставляя играть воображение и вводя в гипноз. Но при этом оказывается довольно теплой и согревающей в холодный мартовский вечер. Это то, чего так не хватает в суровую российскую погоду. Такая вот «универсальная» музыка, прочувствовать которую еще глубже поможет прослушивание на качественной аппаратуре.
    — ИЛЬЯ КУДРИН, Eatmusic

  • Released via the Australian Room40-imprint on March 8th, 2k19 is “Scalar Fields”, the latest album outing crafted by sound artist Yann Novak. Comprised of two compositions of 20 minutes length each, created from the idea of slowing down video and brought to life as a Los Angeles-based audiovisual installation in 2016 from which the audio is drawn the album starts with “Scalar Field (Yellow, Blue, Yellow)”, a beautiful static flow of time dissolving, slow motion Ambient that provides nothing but a soft, calming, conceptional pillow enabling the user to enter new, previously unexplored realms of perception whereas the follow up “Scalar Field (Orange, Pink, Orange)” is taking a similarly timeless route whilst bringing forth a slightly more ruminant, inward-looking and melancholic touch in droning Ambient music over the course of its playtime.

  • Letztes Jahr hatte ich die grossartige Möglilchkeit, die Installation “Ganzfeld” von James Turrell live in Baden-Baden zu erleben. Ein fesselndes Spiel zwischen Raum, Licht und Farbe – was beim Betreten zu einer ganzkörperlichen und unbeschreiblichen Erfahrung führte. Mit “Scalar Fields” erschien nun ein klangliches Gegenstück, dass alleine mit Sounds und Flächen in diese Gebiete der Stimmung und Auswirkung gelangt. Komponiert und aufgenommen von Yann Novak, sind die zwei 20 Minuten langen Tracks zeit- und raumsprengende Gebilde.

    Viel passiert bei “Scalar Fields” nicht, denn die beiden Tracks bestehen nur aus dahingleitenden Synthesizer-Spuren, welche sich zu einer vollkommen umfassenden Hülle aufbauen. Eigentlich als Musik zu den audiovisuellen Installationen gedacht, welche in Los Angeles und Foligno aufgebaut waren, vermag es die Musik auch ohne Bilder zu betören. Der amerikanische Künstler hat mit diesem Album zwar die Spielerei mit den Farben weggelassen, die mathematische Wirkung blieb vorhanden. Das Skalarfeld ist die Funktion, jedem Punkt in einem bestimmten Raum eine Zahl zuzuordnen – nach welchen Yann Novak mit farblichen Übergängen auch die Frequenzen angepasst hat. Fast unmerklich wechseln die Schichten, verändert sich Intensität, erreicht das Werk eine emotionale Bindung.

    Der Genuss von “Scalar Fields” verlässt bald die Anzeichen der kalten Berechnung und verändert, durch das Zusammenspiel von Hörer und Komponist, Wahrnehmung und Stimmung. Yann Novak hat es geschafft, dass die zwei Tracks erhaben, wunderschön und ergreifend wirken. Das tiefe Eintauchen in die Musik geschieht wie von alleine, aus Klängen werden selbstreflektive Gedanken, Ausgeglichenheit und Zufriedenheit machen sich im Körper breit. Aus der statischen Grundlage wird eine lebendige Neugeburt, aus der engen Wahrnehmung eine weite Perspektive.
    — Michael Bohl, Artnoir

  • These two almost-exactly-twenty-minute works are the sound elements from audiovisual installations, initiated in 2013, where both the picture and the sound are driven by an interest in stretching time to such an extent that any change is so gradual as to be barely perceptible. Everything appears static at first glance, and only by returning to it minutes later do you see that anything has shifted. Though it’s not made expressly clear in the notes I’ve got, it appears that the video is a supremely slow change in colour tone and gradient- hence the names “yellow, blue, yellow” and “orange, blue, orange”, which also appear to have titles where the colours are expressed hexidecimally. It appears to be a very digital and technical exercise.

    And so it is with this detached sound. Supremely soft and mellow synthetic pads of sound, afforded no sense of origin either in the concept notes or the sound itself, where different elements of windy, hollow and hum tones meander forwards and backwards with a resolute slowness. Twenty minutes ends up feeling like an arbitrary extraction of sonic landscapes that could theoretically last hours or days, with no beginning or end, loops that never actually repeat, and so on.

    There’s not a lot to distinguish the two pieces either, with the second piece “orange, blue, orange” perhaps marginally deeper and yet also slightly warmer, but the abstraction is so absolute that it becomes hard to differentiate between genuine sonic variation and the reflections of your own thoughts and moods occurring alongside. Uneventful by design, this is a comforting and soporific sonic wallpaper of a kind of which I’m very fond.
    — Stuart Bruce, Chain D.L.K.

  • Scalar Fields, available on March 8th is the latest from LA-based sound artist Yann Novak consisting of two 20-minute long pieces begun in 2013 as an exploration of extrapolating video output at its barest bones. As he explains: “I wanted to explore slowing down video to the point that change was imperceptible…My intent was to create a time-based piece that could be experienced more as a painting or sculpture could: a static object that gains meaning though prolonged observation.” Sounds like a voyeur in slo-mo limbo, but what does it all sound like? After developing a myriad of sound situations for installation, performance and other interdisciplinary modalities since 2005, Novak has taken a slightly new tact from that of his glistening gem (for which I think I wore out my digital copy), The Breeze Blowing Over Us (Infrequency, 2009) as well as the sonic, granular minimalism of Ornamentation (Touch, 2016). It’s all in the midst of shifting gradients. Let’s dive in.

    Starting with Scalar Field (yellow, blue, yellow), a plume of drone opens slowly on all channels, it’s broad reach delivering an acoustic bouquet that lingers. If the source is actually video itself, the effect is most certainly that of whitenoise static, the kind that renders its audience into a half trance/half horripilated state of mind. It comes with this giant waft of static electricity, a sensitive buzz, that with any volume begins to induce a mental mirage. The entire piece in like a frenetic singular line, reverberating and fizzing to the end.

    On Scalar Field (orange, pink, orange) the mode seems to have dropped a chord. The atmosphere is slightly more meditative here, albeit not far from the same cadence as the previous piece. These are the most gradual and understated of variations in tone. But unlike the previous work that had a bit of tension, this here is more a release, notwithstanding the ‘drop in cabin pressure’ is likely coming from the downward spiral of its resonant velocity. A sensitive piece that is delivered with a great deal of airiness and breadth – just set free.
    — TJ Norris, Toneshift