Soundtrack: Olivier Messiaen – Louange á L’Eternité de Jésus
Sounds can shimmer, and so can light. There are often parallels between sound and light – music and painting share terminology, sounds have colours (white noise, Kind of Blue), light can be loud, both carry information.
Shimmering is a perpetual oscillation, a subtle instability that never collapses into itself. The most beautiful kind of shimmering is that of a star or a quivering cello in Quartet for the End of Time; the object has some permanence (the note hangs, the star remains) but it is in constant flux and never sits still.
A Bridget Riley shimmers, a lot of post-war American paintings do too – they’re engineered to keep the eye moving, but in one place. The reciprocity of static and dynamic is what drives these paintings and it is a subset of a possible definition of Art: the reciprocity of being and not being (Badiou). Great paintings heighten their own fragility by various means. A thing that shimmers is fragile but paradoxically permanent; its fragility is intense and moves us.
When the eye fills with tears, everything shimmers.