The week began with tutorials and an opportunity to focus on my ideas and prioritise my attention.
Based on my idea for my home address melody, this weeks’ Research Tree is made from Serialism. As a musical compositional technique, Serialism became popular through Arnold Schoenberg’s 12 tone technique, beginning in the 1920’s. A group of twelves tones or pitches is arranged on a stave in a “random” fashion, and then various rules of arrangement allow the composer to create further groups, or rows, which are variations on the original row. The technique became hugely influential in 20th century composition and many famous composers used the technique, including Karlheinz Stockhausen, Pierre Boulez, Béla Bartók, Benjamin Britten, John Cage, György Ligeti, Dmitri Shostakovich, and Igor Stravinsky.
Mrs Beckham mentioned an artist I’d never heard of – Leafcutter John. He is a musician, programmer and visual artist from the UK. He has produced a range of plotter prints that use algorithms to make intriguing images. This is a kind of serialism where algorithms run repeatedly, but interact with themselves through repetition.
He has also created the Forester software, “a unique and inspiring modular playground.”
I arranged a photoshoot with local photographer Steve Bailey in the SoA lighting studio this week. He helped me with the technical side of photographing my prototype circuit boards with his DSLR, which provided me with hi-res images at over 200Mb… that many pixels seriously challenges my computer’s capabilities. Photography is a game of patience… but worth the waiting, I hope.
Using principles from Serialism, but not strictly adhering to its rules, I created note grids to help me translate my home address into music.
I created melodies from the different parts of my home address by extrapolating notes from the letters in the address, i.e. “Aberystwyth” gave me the following notes, using the 7 note grid above:
a b e d d e f b d f a
Using the 12 note grid, “Aberystwyth” would translate into these 11 notes:
a b e g d g# a c d a a
Using the arrangement of notes from the two grids I was able to score melodies from the various parts of my address. 78 individual notes in two different arrangements.
I moved onto my computer and entered the pitches onto different MIDI tracks in my DAW. That way, I can have greater control over the notes and repeated singular patterns are easier to manipulate. I experimented with repeating the note patterns – 9 notes/5 notes/4 notes/5 notes/8 notes/6 notes/11 notes/10 notes/5 notes/7 notes. I explored different speeds/tempos and repetitions – 9 notes repeated 9 times, 5 notes repeated 5 times, etc. Using different sounds I was able to begin representing my address in different musical styles and different emotional atmospheres.
Research – lecture #1
Francesca Woodman – untitled 1975-1981
Francesca Woodman was a photographer who addressed ideas of portraiture in spaces, often featuring herself in unusual poses. I wonder how much fun she had with her work. Probably not much, considering her demise. This particular example reminds me of some of Bill Brandt’s photos. Woodman’s photos often deal with the figure in a surrealistic relationship to a room and it’s decay. I do find her work fascinating, intriguing and, to misquote Lawrence Ferlinghetti, I find her to be a forlorn observer of a strange world.
Cornelia Parker – Neither from nor towards – 1992
Cornelia Parker is a conceptual artist who has created a range of installations and sculptures. I remember seeing her exploded shed in the Tate, I thought it was fantastic. This work is another great piece, a frozen tumble of homes falling over the cliff… a suspension of time and movement. I feel a strange sensation from this piece, like when your stomach reacts to going fast on a roller coaster.
Roger Hiorns – seizure – 2008
Roger Hiorns is an artist who creates installations and sculptures. His work “Seizure” transforms a derelict bedsit into a crystallised world of wonder. 75,000 litres of liquid copper sulphate were pumped into the former council flat to create a strangely beautiful and somewhat menacing crystalline growth on the walls, floor, ceiling and bath of the abandoned dwelling.
I think this is really amazing. The story behind the work is interesting and the question “Where do you get 75,000 litres of anything, ’round here?” remains unanswered.
Janet Cardiff & George Burres Miller – The House of Books has no Windows – 2008
Janet Cardiff & George Burres Miller created the work by bolting books together into planks that were used to construct a house with no windows. I had mixed feelings about this work initially. I feel I didn’t really understand the intentions and was faced with superficial objections. I expect that the impact of actually being in the house would facilitate a better understanding of the intentions behind the work. Our imagination and the voice of the storyteller in our heads would no doubt lead us to the conclusion that this a great work.
Lecture #1 responses
“Unsighted drawing” is difficult… I have to admit that I sneaked a look a few times.
I rarely go back to this exercise and revisit my responses to the videos we are shown. Sometimes, interesting ideas can reveal themselves, but I find it difficult to squeeze the ideas into my current obsessions and fixations. Maybe, another day…