Sunday, July 10, 2011

"Ever think what a sound looks like?" The Visual-Audible Gestalt

I've long been fascinated with the connection between sound and visual. From artists influenced by music, unconsciously fusing their playlists with the ink flowing out of their pens, to experimenters exploring the physics of sound waves manifested for the eye.

Below are three lovelies that speak to this undeniable but oft overlooked sensorial link.


PAUL POPE's ROCK COMICS- More than just capturing the essence of sound in a visual format, Paul Pope infuses his early graphic novels with the energy, fashion, and attitude of rock 'n roll as a movement. Spilling over onto his personal silhouette, Pope appears to live his art, both emulating the messy-haired, tight-jean rocker look of an era lost and boldly pushing the envelope within his medium while openly advocating for the underdog that the comic format represents in the art world.

"In 2002 GEAR Magazine put Pope at # 11 in their annual TOP 100 list of "the most exciting people, places, and things on the planet," calling him "one of the most consistently inventive comics artists of his generation." In France he's been called "the Jim Morrison of comics." via Advocates for Self Government

Check out: "Heavy Liquid," Pope's graphic novel inspired by a song of the same name by Thee Hypnotics (below)


SAND EXPERIMENTS: THE DIVINE GEOMETRY OF SOUND - This incredible video demonstrates the power of sound waves to influence the material. Robert Jourdain's analogy referring to how people use music, like drugs, for mood enhancement comes to mind: "We 'take' a certain kind of music to steer our central nervous systems toward a particular condition; hard rock as the frenzied rush of cocaine; easy-listening genres as a martini; cheery supermarket Muzak as a pick-me-up cup of coffee; cool jazz as a laid-back marijuana high; the far-flung landscapes of classical music as the fantasy realm of psychedelics." It is my personal belief that music is medicine. From subsonic frequencies below the level of hearing causing nausea by resonating with our internal organs to Shamantic drumming inducing a state of deep meditative sleep by tapping into theta brain wave, sound is a potent tool for altering our physiology and consciousness.

Check out: David Sonnenschein's book "Sound Design: The Expressive Power of Music, Voice, and Sound Effects in Cinema" -->

Excerpt, pg 98: "Entrainment can be refelcted in the global environment, architecture, and even in our physiology. An electromagnetic field vibrates between the ionosphere and the Earth's surface at 4-8Hz (called the Schumann resonance), which synchronizes not only with that theta consciousness state of "oneness" and harmony with the universe, but is also said to be mathematically related to many sacred sites such as Stonehenge and the Pyramids"


NORMAN MCLAREN's HAND DRAWN SOUNDS- Just as sound may be reconstituted into a visual counterpart, a visual component such as a drawing can be directly translated for our ears. Norman McLaren's "Pen Point Percussion" is a rare example of this principle. A student of animation, McLaren invented many groundbreaking techniques for synchronizing music with the moving image. An iconoclast's iconoclast, McLaren built the Canadian animation scene up from nothing by choosing art students he thought has animation potential based on their portfolios and interviews and encouraging them to experiment under the camera in a haven he created away from the pressures Hollywood. The studio he headed at the National Film Board of Canada thrived on the "conviction that animation should be personal, experimental, and diverse in technique," and McLaren's belief that in film "how it moved was more important than what moved" inspired him to cross past the camera directly to film stock, playing with the relationships between the size of dots drawn on film to the pitch and tone outputted when the drawings were played through a Moviola.

Check out: Dots, McLaren's short 1940's film combining his visual and audio drawings/ a precursor to electronic music.

More on McLaren at NFB