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Composing Visual Music: visual music practice at the intersection of technology, audio-visual rhythms and human traces

Composing Visual Music: visual music practice at the intersection of technology, audio-visual rhythms and human traces

Watkins, Julie (2018) Composing Visual Music: visual music practice at the intersection of technology, audio-visual rhythms and human traces. Body, Space & Technology, 17 (1). pp. 51-75. ISSN 1470-9120 (doi:https://doi.org/10.16995/bst.296)

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Abstract

Creators of visual music face the challenge of retaining their own artistic impetus amidst an overwhelming choice of instruments, aesthetics, practice, techniques and technologies brought about by the impinging presence of a vast sea of data and tools. Navigating the data-driven ephemerality of artistic technology and its market-driven constraints by utilising strategies similar to composer Ron Kuivila’s (1998) for getting ‘under’, ‘over’ and ‘into’ will be examined with the aim of elucidating methodologies for creating works that other artistic practitioners may find useful.

Leading pioneers of visual music were, of necessity, innovators of technology as well as visual musicians and artists. There is an intrinsic tension between developing new technology in order to re-imagine how music can be made visible and technological pioneers succumbing to the fascination of exploring the technology itself. Understanding aspects of perception, such as rhythm, is key to developing new technologies and processes in ways that avoid this pitfall and keep the experience of visual music central. Audio-visual synchronisation and rhythm are vital to create, in the seminal computer artist John Whitney’s words: ‘an art that should look like music sounds’ (1980: front dust jacket).

Integrating the body, human traces and especially the human voice into visual music compositions underpins the key objective which is to create work that is non-narrative, ‘abstracted animation’[1] (Watkins, 2015), and yet suffused with human presence and emotion. Visual music can be perceived as overly repetitive, cold and alienating if it seems to embody a purely mechanical alignment of music to image, or if it seems disengaged from both human emotions and natural imagery.

This paper is part of an on-going investigation into developing methodologies for composing new abstract visual music pieces and, ultimately, parameters for a visual musical instrument.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Component records to the "Framework for Composing Visual Music" project: 23370 WATKINS_Interactive_Visual_Music_2019.pdf https://gala.gre.ac.uk/id/eprint/23370/ *** 20009 WATKINS_Creating_Affective_Visual_Music_2018.pdf https://gala.gre.ac.uk/id/eprint/20009/ *** 16676 WATKINS_Composing_Visual_Music_Today_2017.pdf - https://gala.gre.ac.uk/id/eprint/16676/ *** 15378_Watkins_Animacy, motion, emotion (pub PDF OA) 2016.pdf - https://gala.gre.ac.uk/id/eprint/15378/
Uncontrolled Keywords: visual music, experimental film, moving image
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
Faculty / Department / Research Group: Faculty of Architecture, Computing & Humanities
Faculty of Architecture, Computing & Humanities > Department of Creative Professions & Digital Arts
Last Modified: 19 May 2019 08:41
Selected for GREAT 2016: None
Selected for GREAT 2017: None
Selected for GREAT 2018: GREAT c
Selected for GREAT 2019: GREAT 1
URI: http://gala.gre.ac.uk/id/eprint/19363

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