top of page

sign waves: a fortune-telling device

Process & Play


These five tiles are to be spun by the viewer and then read in a similar manner as the pages of the I Ching or the cards of the Tarot – not as future fortune but as a look at the viewer’s present state.


Each of the five tiles displays a painted wave, each one of which is based on the form, formation, and effect of a specific type of ocean wave. They also, here, represent a certain life factor, condition, or “state” of the viewer.


The one side of the painted wave is to be known as an Olm, indicating Charity and Openness.

The closed side of the painted wave is to be known as an Onis, indicating Burden and Reticence.


Depending upon the position of the Olm and Onis after a tile is spun, one may interpret the degree of presence or absence of the represented state in the viewer.


Each of the four positions in which a tile, its wave, and its Olm may land is marked by an invisible quadrant around an invisible circle beginning in the 12 o’clock position above the tile. (Though such numerical measurements of time should be viewed as immaterial in this work, the divisions of the clockface are a helpful marker of space.)

The Olm will land open in one of these four spaces and will indicate (from 12-3) a presence of that state (+), (from 3-6) a moving away from that state (-+), (from 6-9) an absence of that state (-), or (from 9-12) a moving toward that state (+-).

sign waves.JPG

Waves & States


The wave types and states they represent are as follows (left to right).


1. Plunge (almost half circle):

High wave of short wavelength and vertical ellipsis. Has powerful backwash.

Destructive. Movement backwards. A returning to or a repetition of actions.


2. Capillary (over half circle):

Progressive wave of steady speed. Formed when wind creates pressure over the Capillarity, the binding force that holds the molecules of the ocean surface together.

Progressive. Moving forward with a stable pace. Bound to all things.


3. Swell (almost full circle):

Wave made up of a number of different wavelengths superimposed on each other. Straight, long, powerful. Travels far.

External. Varied and many forces creating substantial strength and movement.


4. Seiche (quarter circle):

Wave caused due to movement within a confined space, long wavelength but low height; rarely causes damage.

Internal. Small motions within. Energy expended on inconsequential factors.


5. Spill (half circle):

Constructive wave. Long wavelength, low height. Reaches upper beach with little backwash. Constructive. Reaching far with little damage. Long-term, gradual, low risk.

links to related content:

bottom of page