Thursday, January 28, 2010


(frame enlargement from the hand painted Film #3, Interwoven, Harry Smith 1947-1949,
and inspirational Seminole Patchwork designs above that)

oh yes, it's all about color, pattern, and visual rhythm in hand painted film this week.
We watched Harry Smith's Early Abstractions (above), which you can peer at here in a very compressed version w/ Teiji Ito soundtrack = NOT Meet the Beatles. More Harry Smith links are here (grammy award) and here (his archives at the Getty). We also watched Stan Brakhage's stained glass-inspired Chartres Series (1994) and Richard Reeves Linear Dreams (1997), among other handpainted films.

This week's reading is VISUAL MUSIC , an essay by Jeremy Strick from the amazing catalog to a 2005 travelling exhibition called Visual Music: Synaesthesia in Music and Art since 1900.
And if you like that you might like to check out The Center for Visual Music in L.A where abstraction reigns king.

But back to the present--here are a few of our own hand-painted experiments !

Red Dot, Black Dot, by Christopher:

Mike's brand new bag:

Tara's acrylic determination:

Casa Bonita by Katie


好想談戀愛 said...
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michael.salka said...
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michael.salka said...

Like many I'd never seen abstract films before coming to Boulder and I'm happy to say that when I did I fell in love instantly and plan on cosigning with them on a honeymooner's suite. Previously I had only experienced abstract images as a background art, displayed at concerts or in a rare museum exhibit I likely disregarded and was completely unaware of the richness of the pieces that actually belong to the legitimate family of abstract film. When looking at Reeves's Linear Dreams over the light table I wanted every individual frame blown up to mural proportions to hang on my wall like fine paintings.
On a not so completely unrelated note, did anyone else have Fantasia come to mind while reading the Visual Music article? I know it's probably blasphemous to bring up Disney in a discussion of abstract art, but that film seems to be the commercial embodiment of synaesthesia.

M.Myser said...

In regards to Visual Music...

Strick states that "...These medias all treat music and visual arts as seperate but related entitles, brought together for the listener/viewer. The synaesthetic experience, as noted above, inheres to experiencing subject." Though an artist can bring together both visual media and music it is up to the viewer/listener to connect and experience the two together. But this to me seems like that artist is trying to force upon the viewer/listener their idea of synaesthesia thinking that it is the same for everyone. I think that it is up to the viewer to make the connection or have or not have a synaesthesia experience.

I do not think that it is an uncommon things to experience. I think in some ways we have always been taught and trained to experience and relate certain things to color or to music--we learn states, math, and rules in song form and states, days, and where things go by color. I do believe that since we are children it is ingrained in our minds that color and song are related to each other and to learning.

"Synaesthetic associations were thought to result from a heightened state of aesthetic awareness in the percieving subject." I think that describes childhood to the T. Our entire childhood is a heightened state of aesthetic awareness. As with Art it is the goal. To learn through aesthetic and to give or recieve knowledge by being a sponge.


that's all i got for now....

Christopher Warren said...

I usually associate music or other auditory stimuli when i think of synesthesia. songs often have a "feel" for me, and most people i assume. i have had the emotional recall often associated with smells to many songs before.

On a bit off note, there is a band called CLoud Cult with a very unique sound, and they have members of the band who just paint to the music at concerts, live. and then they sell the paintings. it is a cool concept with the relationship between sight and sound.

"Cloud Cult has two professional painters on stage for the band's live shows. The paintings are created live during the set and auctioned off at the end of the show"

Ryan Simpson said...

Gosh, I feel as if I've had a misconception about synaesthesia, as if it was on the same plane as a "disorder," akin to an acid trip of sorts, only accessible by a select "disorderly" few. I'd never viewed it as a kind of relationship or association to another element of art. Big eye opener.

Also, I was struck by the seemingly optimistic view Strick voiced near the end of his article towards digital media, when I expected quite the opposite. Synaesthetic elements continue to find new, unique avenues of association and it's interesting to read Strick's viewpoint that digital technology "perhaps links all the visual arts; all combined in bits of electronic information."

For a class based on handmade objects, it may not be the message most conducive to promoting handmade films (!), but when viewed as a call to continue exploring new methods of creation, it's exciting to think about all the resources we've got in this here day-and-age. "Unlikely linkages create the most vivid imagery" --- that's inspiration for me! Handmade or no, synaesthetic elements can be applied to any art form is seems... time to get crackin'.

Microcastle by the band Deerhunter makes for visual reading of this article... HA!

That Cloud Cult link is pretty ripping!

John Hebert said...

Visual Music and Synaesthesia
Although I had never heard the term Synaesthesia before Jeanne's class, I believe it is a something we all attempt to achieve even if only subconsciously. Our memories are often filled with not only images but a variety of aroma's and sounds. So combining these sense in an artful sense seems natural almost natural to us. Much of the process of creating art is training your sense and body in an attempt to replicate whatever one sees or hears in their head.

Huysmans "Mouth Organ" is a great literary example of how Synaethesia can be perceived and possibly achieved. The idea of training ones sense to believe music is playing when a certain alcohol is tasted reminds me of Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange, where the protagonist is made to feel nausea every time he see or attempts a violent act. Like Pavlov's experiments, visual music attempts to gain a better understanding of our individual senses and there undeniable connection.

I'll leave you with a link to a reproduction of John Cage's

Also be sure to check out my Blog for more video related to visual music.

Jeri said...

Oh, I definitely thought of Fantasia when reading Visual Music! I've had that film on my computer, meaning to watch it since last semester when I first read this article.

What I find to be funny about color is that some cultures really don't learn it like we do in America. I found that my boss, who's from Syria, didn't learn colors at all. He thought that red and yellow made green and had never heard of primary or secondary colors. Which baffled me since we all seemed to learn our colors at such a young age.

jeanli said...

Looking at that Cloud Cult link( great idea and right on point with our discussion) made me think about this band I love called DEMONS , a side project of Nate from WolfEyes. Demons is 2 electronic musicians and one video artist--when I saw them live the video artist was literally translating sound into image, sitting onstage with the musicians --inputting electronic sound signal and outputting video signal --and projecting it on a littel homemade screen on the stage with them. Here's the Myspace

Anna Inverno said...

Synesthesia I
cant remember hearing co
lor but wish I had

I think the only time I can recall an act of me experiencing synesthesia is connecting my friend's laptop up to a bum TV and watching the static on the screen change based on the song.

After watching Harry Smith's films and then watching David Gatten's " What the Water Said" I felt liberated. Smith's films make me really tense mostly because of the image I have of him sitting at a desk for hours working on them. The relief I have from watching David Gatten's film is that the process of creating it seems adventureous,suspenseful and just fucking fun.

yourpartnerincrime said...

post removed by administrator? I fear administration, and censorship. what's going on here?



khitch said...

I really really enjoyed Richard Reeves Linear Dreams. While watching this film I felt as if I was on a metaphysical journey. All the different textures and movements we fascinating. If it was possible to literally be sucked into a film, I would have been sucked into this one.

The article on synaesthesia in various media was quite interesting. I was able to relate to it because I place color and sound together. For me, it seems to be a subconscious thing. I actually just recently started noticing how I relate certain colors to sound.

It was really neat seeing all the color films that people created. I thought Christopher's red dot black dot was done super well. Along with this, I really enjoyed Anna's mixed media film.

sarah jane said...

this will be an unpopular statement, i think, but i gotta confess that i've always felt skeptical of synesthesia as a physiological state. it's nice to think about it as vast metaphorical territory to explore, but imagining the actual experience of "colored hearing" freaks me out a little bit. also i feel mild resentment at Strick's oversimplification of the development of abstract film (solely to fix painters' problems by uniting painting and sound? Bah.)

But there is a drawing by an artist named spencer finch that i thought of while reading this... see my blog for a description and some images.

jeanli said...

Love that Spencer Finch piece, yes! And ultimately--I was commenting to someone here--Visual Music isn't necessarily about synaethesia per se as a physiological condition. As SArah says, it is mostly metaphorical. But as we are applying painting to filmaking we are searching for methodas and systems that make some kind of sense--comparing conditions of different mediums and their formal aspects which are sometimes unique to thmeselves and sometimes overlap. How to move between them, to translate them, to let them inform each other? What reasons have people had to do this at all, represent experience or otherwise invisible emotions?

C. Wallace said...

It interests me, Professor Liotta, that you asked why people find reason to "represent experience or otherwise invisible emotions," because the most intriguing part of this article, for me, is that it underscores the seemingly cognomimetic potential of integrated cinematic/motion-based-digital art. Assuming--as this article assumes-- that each person is a "perceiving subject" divisible-- at least perceptually-- from the rest of existence, extrinsic phenomena are input through a person's corporal apparatus; a phenomenon is then processed according to this person's intrinsic system of symbolism/models, so it can be decoded/catalogued/understood. As Jeremy Strick describes synaesthesia, it seems to explicify this process. Thanks to a synaesthete's sensory faculties, a stimulus can be modeled different ways, and hence experienced differently each way (eg: sound waves can be heard-felt and/or seen-felt). In creating art that mimics synaesthesia, then, an artist utilizes a monadic understanding of cognizance as a template. Furthermore, time/motion based art is rooted in the very metamodels--time and space-- with which people can be said to digest "external reality."
Perhaps a cognomimetic approach in art is alluring-- in part-- because it aggravates an audience's interpretive processes, by way of of a structure that functions as a mirror process, resulting in the deconstruction of an audiencemember's extant symbolism/modeling circuits; the construction of novel ones. Maybe we keep finding ways to represent experience freshly, for the sake of experiential freshness itself.