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Week 5 – Mason Eaton

Aims and Plans

Following from last week, I will be producing auto writing and auto drawing in response to my two Town composed pieces. I will also be using the shape of their soundwaves to produce some photoshop pieces in compilation with the auto drawing and writing. I also want to provide some symbolism and meaning through research for these pieces, like I did last week with ‘Birds and Boiling Rice’.

Artist Research

Alvin Lucier

Alvin Lucier in 2004 performing “Opera with Objects” at the experimental theatre club La MaMa in Lower Manhattan.

Alvin Lucier was an avant-garde experimental music composer whose work was routed in the physics of sound. He was born in Nashua on May 14th, 1931, and his mother taught him the rudiments of piano during his childhood, but he became more passionate about the drums. His interest in jazz began while listening to a recording of Arnold Schuberg’s ‘Serenade’. Following this, Lucier went on to study composition and music theory at Yale University, during that time developing a neo-classical style of music production. However, his composition style drastically changed as a result of attending a concert by John Cage and David Tudor in 1960, while on a two year stay in Rome as a Fulbright Scholar. His style reached a ‘breakthrough’ in 1965, when he met Edmond Dewan, a physicist and inventor of a brain wave amplifier, who offered his equipment to Lucier which led to his 1965 production of ‘Music for a Solo Performer’. In 1966, Lucier formed the Sonic Art Union with fellow avant-garde composers such as Robert Ashley and David Behram. Come 1968, he joined the Wesleyan Faculty and taught Composition there until his retirement in 2011. Lucier’s work was very influential on the avant-garde composition scene, intersecting voice and architecture by performing social confrontations as art. His work is inspired by his fascination by how sound works as a physical phenomenon, and he often began his projects through wondering what sounds would emerge from a specific process. Lucier’s most famous piece is arguably ‘I am Sitting in a room’, 1969, which was composed from voice and sound reproduction and repetition; Lucier staged a series of complex actions where he replayed voice recordings, overlapping them, until the sound being produced lost all recognisable shape. The 45-minute-long piece made up from 32 cycles of modulating repetition focuses on physical phenomenon and the art of presence, slowly devolving from voice recording repetition into a piece about presenting an acoustic space and rhythmic tone.

Experimentation and Development

Town – Version 1

Town Version 1

Autodrawing and Autowriting

For this week’s experimentation response, I first produced some auto drawing in response to the audio piece, then produced auto writing on top of the same piece in a different colour, to combine the two practises, meaning I produced this response piece by listening to the recording twice, taking a total of 5 minutes and 14 seconds. I produced a lot more distinct shapes and recognisable images with this piece, perhaps due to the audio being focused on voices which are more solidly recognisable as sounds than other noises, and more closely related to people. It was also interesting to combine the writing and drawing directly and focus on working within a time frame constricted to the length of the audio piece.

Town – Version 2

Town Version 2

Autodrawing and Autowriting

I produced this auto drawing and auto writing piece in the same manner as the one for Town Version 1: auto drawing whilst listening to the audio piece, then auto writing over the top while listening to it again, totalling 2 minutes and 46 seconds of response time. I had less than half the time to respond as I did from Town Version 1, resulting in quicker lines and scruffier imagery in drawing, and less words from writing. This piece appears more structural, but also has more movement to it, perhaps due to the constrict of time during production. I think the time limit for response helps to produce a narrowed, focused piece of pure information and interpretation for further analysis.

Soundwaves and Mix-Media Collage

Town Version 1 – Photo Collage
I used photoshop to overlay the image of the soundwave for Town Version 1 with the response piece from the audio. I edited the contrast and opacity of the two images and overlayed them, so that they were both visible in the combined piece. I like making these photo collages as I think it presents the audio piece in a completely different way.

Town Version 2 – Photo Collage
I used photoshop in the same way as I did in version 1 to produce this photo collage. By transforming the audio piece into something visual, it allows me to interpret it differently, alongside providing a physical piece of work to respond and research from further.

Experimentation Research

In terms of providing meaning through symbolism, as I did with ‘Birds and Boiling Rice’, my Town audio pieces were more difficult to research. People, voices and walking combine to create the audio pieces, but are far too broad of subjects to research when it comes to symbolism. I tried to research the sound of footsteps, children playing, walking and people talking but found very little in terms of symbolism and spiritual meaning to provide to the audio pieces. I will, however, be trying to carry on this theme of providing spiritual and symbolic meaning to next week’s pieces, which will hopefully be easier to find a focus point with.

Analysis and Reflection

In reflection of this week, I am happy with my experimentation, however I am disappointed that I couldn’t provide context from research to my sound experiments. I am planning on producing one, maybe two sound experiments next week with the intentions of producing something I can provide specific context to. I will also produce auto drawing and auto writing in response and create more photomontages with the appearance of the soundwaves. I also want to involve psychoacoustics into my work and produce sound experimentation with the intention to elicit a specific response from the audience.


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