The relationship between the visual and the musical transcends modern history. The Pythagoreans were likely the first Westerners to expand on this connection when they declared: ‘The eyes are made for astronomy, the ears for harmony, and these are sister sciences.’ Medieval and later stages delved into a vast intellectual undergrowth of arcane and convoluted theories of how music and the mathematical proportions of creation were one and the same. By the early 20th century artists like Expressionist Wassily Kandinsky were pioneering the fusion of music and modern art. Kandinsky said of this merging: ‘With few exceptions, music has been for some centuries the art which has devoted itself not to the reproduction of natural phenomena, but rather to the expression of the artist’s soul, in musical sound.’
Contemporary artists are translating sound or music into video, film, and graphic design to communicate the auditory experience into visual terms, often turning to technology. At Farmboy Fine Arts (FBFA) we strive to provide our clients with superior creative content, innovative products, and relevant, thoughtful art narratives. This means understanding how artists are using sound in art to create purposeful, engaging art experiences.
GENERATIVE ART | Algorithm and tempo
Generative art refers to art that has been created with the use of an autonomous system. Generally that system is non-human and can independently determine features of an artwork that would otherwise require decisions made directly by the artist. So, while the frameworks and behaviors of these systems are outlined by the artist, the final piece is ‘generated’ by the system itself, offering unique artworks that can continually reinvent themselves as the system takes in new data and interprets it through the lens of its programming.
For example, the artist Andreas Nicolas Fischer worked with Mercedes-Benz to transform the powerful engine sound of the SLS AMG into a fascinating wall sculpture.
MUSICAL ACCOMPANIMENT | Pairing art and music
Artworks that feature video or sound are often experienced at art galleries though the use of headphones, allowing the spectator to be completely immersed in the art piece. In a recent exhibition at London’s National Gallery, Soundscapes, six noted musicians and artists were invited to generate music to accompany a painting of their choice from the collection. ‘When sounds have been composed in response to a work of art, they can encourage–even compel–concentration,’ says National Gallery director Nicholas Penny.
Alternatively, the musical instrument responsible for the autistic composition is used as the focal point of the artwork. For example, FBFA created custom wallcovering murals for the Renaissance Nashville Hotel‘s guestrooms, a nod to the city’s vibrant musical history.
ABSTRACT NOTATION | Deriving art from sheet music
The pitches, rhythms, and chords of a song or instrumental musical piece form the composition; the clefs and notes inform the direction the artwork takes. Canadian artist Jack Shadbolt’s music-inspired Modular Variation J and Modular Variation R hang in the lobby of the Rosewood Hotel Georgia, part of an artwork collection delivered by FBFA.
Similarly, for the Mathematics department of a Chicago college, FBFA produced a glass partition with abstracted mathematical equations and formulae to encourage an environment of free thinking and ideation.
INTERACTIVE ART | Art for the senses
Interactive art is a form of art that involves the spectator to achieve its purpose. Some interactive art installations accomplish this by letting the observer or visitor walk in, on, or around the work. Works of this kind of art frequently feature computers and sensors to respond to motion, heat, meteorological changes or other types of input that the artist programmed them to respond to.
In Paul Prudence‘s Rynth the involvement comes not from human spectators but from interpreting data from radiators, ancient theories on the cosmos, and ‘clinking sounds’.