Development 1

I really liked the abstract elements of the work I had seen on Pinterest and elsewhere, so I decided to go down the abstract route. I began to experiment, I incorporated collage, focusing on the form and structure as opposed to minute detail. I wanted to free it all up a bit. “Express myself”.

I liked working on a larger space as well. I know A3 is such a stereotyped size to work with.. GCSE and A Levels and all that. But it just meant that I had space to let my work breathe a bit more, even if I didn’t draw to the very edge of every page.

The collage I made was inspired by the watercolour transfer. The shapes made by the bleeding of the pigment into the paper was beautiful. But I wanted to simplify them, make them more symbolic, and representative as opposed to intricate. So I stepped back from the page and looked at the shapes as a whole. The group of shapes interested me. And so I recreated it using magazine cuttings. Rather bright colours, and not all directly representative of those previously, but again – symbolic.

 

Image is my own

No words

After removing the music, I was left with a rather delicate outcome. By printing the wet watercolour onto the opposite page, it made fragile looking shapes and markings. I also liked the way not all the paint was transferred, leaving gaps. And some points where colours had blended together.

I then found some images that had a similar outcome to my experiment. They originated from letters, hence the name of the series Love Letters. And despite Josias Scharf’s severely abstract style, the essence of the letter is still communicated.

 

I even think these pieces look a little like a music score.

I love the energy in these pieces. And they way Scharf has developed them, using layering and a collage element in the last ones.

 

First image is my own. Other images from www.pinterest.com

Chromesthesia

Chromesthesia is a form of synesthesia. Whilst synesthesia is the combination of any two senses, chromesthesia is more specifically the association of colours with music.

After carrying out my initial primary research through interviews, I saw this image on Pinterest:

I liked the way they had drawn on to the music score; the physical contact between the music and the pencil. I thought the process would be a good way to help develop my ideas and the concept. So in my sketchbook I did my own version, but colour-coding the notes to colours I associated with them. It was a good experiment and it got me thinking about the project and its development.

I then came across these images. I really like the collage element and the almost mathematical way that it was presented. Clynical? Although, both pieces look like they have been taken from a text of some sort. The second – a diary/letter even, in the way that its on a single sheet of lined paper. What I love most however, is the way the text has been removed from the situation. It is so obviously from a piece of writing, involving words, letters, punctuation. Yet there are none of the latter whatsoever. It is purely through the structure and layout of the mark making that this comes across to the viewer. The form. I thought it was very clever.

It inspired me to remove the music from the page.

 

Images from www.pinterest.com

Discovery: Pinterest!

Pin it.

LOVE Pinterest. A quick and easy way of getting inspiration in my opinion. Similar to art stack, it uses a feed system which leads on to countless other feed systems of images relevant to your search. It’s endless. Endless inspiration – fantastic!

I have been using Pinterest for perhaps a couple of months now? I find it to be such a useful way of collecting ideas and images relevant (and irrelevant!) to my work. I can categorise and group my images, I can send images to other pinners.. it’s just a continuous source of research that has helped in, I would say, every stage of my project.

 

I began my search looking at more sensory related images. I like the idea of capturing a feeling, or an emotion as opposed to something more narrative.

 

I loved the emotion and the expression in these pieces. The use of watercolour is very effective, and it adds depth. I also like the use of the pen, and the way it juxtaposes the softness of the watercolour. Hard and soft, two mediums to play around with..

 

(Images from www.pinterest.com)

Research: interviews

Synesthesia is a highly subjective experience. Each individual will encounter a different set of associations to the next. Although, there are some associations that are more typical than others.

I interviewed other musicians and jotted down their thoughts. I also asked a couple of my peers in my drawing class that had such associations. It was very interesting listening to what colours people chose. Some people’s were very different whilst others followed a similar pattern. What I noticed was that the note C seemed to be perceived as a very neutral colour, either yellow or white. I thought maybe this had to do with the key signature as it is the only major scale that has no flats or sharps. Middle C on the piano is also the centre to the keyboard, and usually the first note that you learn as a pianist. This made me associate it with naivety.

Another interesting trend I noticed was the pattern between my brother and my father’s associations. They both begin quite contrastingly yet at E they begin to follow a similar path. This made me also think about how traits can be passed between generations and how synesthesia could potentially be inherited.

Although synesthesia is such a highly subjective conception, I am looking at it as a positive. It means that I can use my own personal colour palette, making my work a lot more personal to me. It also means that I have the space to use the colours I want without having to justify them for any other reason other than they have come from my head.

Research: 17 rooms

As a professional violinist, Klee often made more money as a performer than as an artist. He was brought up in a musical household, listening to opera and studying his instruments.

I felt that these influences could be strongly seen in Klee’s work. Many of his works were made up of shapes, and shapes within shapes. Various works were dominated by what felt like rhythms and textures, polyphony and counterpoint. In some of his work, he used gradations and layering of colour, producing the effect of stained glass  and the emittance of light. This technique reminded me of the way Messiaen was inspired by the stained glass in the churches, and gave Klee’s work a more sacred element to it.

I listened to the audio sound track for the exhibition. It was quite interesting the way they had presented it. Instead of simply speaking about the works, they played soundtracks to various pieces of music Klee was apparently fond of. These included Mozart’s Magic Flute, Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in B major and Beethoven’s Fidelio. The latter was played with a painting called Landscape with flags. Whilst listening to the music and looking at the painting I could almost see the trumpets /horns somewhere amongst the shapes and patterns. The bottom left hand corner is the area that attracts my attention, the way the shapes burst out of another shape and the way he has coloured them to look cylindrical reminds me of some woodwind or brass instruments.

The Klee exhibition Making Visible opened my eyes to the different ways to portray music through art. There were many musical elements that were maintained quite strongly throughout, cleverly emphasised by the musical soundtrack provided. It made me think about how I would present my work.. perhaps coupling a still image with a moving soundtrack was a nice way to juxtapose two subjects so closely related.

(Images from http://www.pinterest.com/pin/69876231691387402/    and http://paintingandframe.com/buy/paul_klee_landscape_with_flags_c_1915_art_paint-21097.html)

Research: the library

I have always been interested in the combination of my two main hobbies: art and music. The relationship between them, since the foundation, has fascinated me increasingly. And at almost every opportunity I have seemed to return to using elements of music in my final outcomes. So when it came to choosing the topic for the final major project, it was pretty straight forward.

I started by visiting the library. What a collection! They had far more resources specific to my project than I had expected. I found a couple of books that took my fancy, one in particular called The Hidden Sense, Synesthesia in art and science by Cretien van Campen seemed right up my street. And it was, it was perfect for my project and has played a central role in the early stages of my research. Various quotes and names of other books are in my notebook, although the information I have found the most useful I have written into my smaller sketchbook. 

The Hidden Sense was great. I struggled to discipline myself to read just the relevant parts to my work. Although, it all seemed to link in some shape or form. I started by reading the introduction as I wanted to be as thorough as possible. It defined key words for me which I noted down and made links to science and neurology, seeming useful at the time, but a little pointless a while after as it didn’t get down to the nitty gritty. So I then chose various chapters from the Index. These included the whole of chapter 2, Perception. Broken down into subsections, it covered interviews with synesthetes and their experiences of the condition. From coloured bars to moving images in front of their eyes, I got a real sense of the sensation of synesthesia and the way their bodies respond when they hear music. I noted down some of the descriptions of these experiences, already starting to imagine large projections of a video clip with sounds filling the room and responsive shapes and colours across the screen: a day in the life of a synesthete.

I also read that synesthesia is a two way process. Not just from sound to image but from image to sound. A fine art photographer from Massachusetts named Marcia Smilack notices how images evoke sounds. There was even a section on synesthetic composers! Twentieth century composer Olivier Messiaen was said to have composed with modes, comparing the colours of the modes to the coloured light from the stained glass windows in churches. An interesting comparison that provoked me to think about potential mediums.. glass? light? ..and again, projection? Off on a bit of a tangent, I like the idea of using projection. The translucent effect it has when the rays cast through the space. And when it hits the wall/ surface, it’s temporary quality. Delicate. Yet, when obstructed it becomes a hard and solid form, of nothing. Or is it nothing? It looks blacker to me.

Anyway, back to The Hidden Sense. I found a section on the Music Animation Machine.  A process to turn music into a visual form. Perfect! The process used vertical positions of coloured bars on the screen to represent the pitch. And the colour represented the instruments/voices/ thematical material/ tonality.

As a visual aid, I thought the process was clever and relatively interesting. Visually exposing patterns that listeners may not necessarily hear means that compositions become more easily accessible. However, I was not blown away. The figures shown in the book looked dull and intensely mechanical. And researching further on the internet I found the colours garish, with little thought to the impact they may have on the viewer and the way they are representing quality of tone.  Although perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised as it is the product of a computer. 

Thinking about this last subchapter, it made me want to invent my own process to translate sound into image. However, it also made me realise the significance of maintaining the spontaneity and human element of music. Music is a highly expressive and liberating form of art in aural terms as well as physical. I am a pianist, and when I perform it involves my entire body. If I were to attempt to communicate music through image I would have to ensure that I do it in a way that does justice to the music as well as to the visual outcome.

(Image found at http://www.musanim.com/all/)

Retroblog

At the moment this is less of a blog, more a way of looking back. Let’s call it a retroblog.

Ideas and thoughts in my logbook / process diary are clear but communication is discrete. Reading it back to myself I’m only just realising how difficult it is to understand the path I have taken to get to the finishing point. It has been more of a place I go to write snippets of information or a random idea that came to me at an obscure time than a reflective journal. Having been immersed in the project for the last eight weeks has meant that I haven’t really had a chance to step back from the work and look at it as a whole. It’s quite bitty. It doesn’t flow as well on paper as it does in my head. Almost as if in another language!

I have never blogged until now. I like it, but perhaps I find more value in retroblogging! Retroblogging is a way of looking back having allowed a thought to settle, potentially emerging as a more valuable way of reflection.

Despite it being clear to me, I’ve tried to come up with other ways to clarify my process. I thought a retroblog was the best way for this.

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