09 April 2014

Drawing sound

On coming across Debbie Lyddon's "Soundmark drawings"
I wondered how other artists visually represented sound.

First thought - musical scores - from the very early (the bare bones of information; finer matters were taught in person)
from Croatia, 1070 (via)

through the "usual" western notation
Gavotte from JS Bach's  notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach (via)

and non-western notation, dongjing for example (via) -

to recent depictions of electronic and other music -
Murray Schaeffer (1977) (via, where there are links to many graphical scores)

Of course you can't "hear these sounds with your mind's ear" unless you've been taught the notation. Guido d'Arrezo was one of the earliest to write down notation, using the hand as part of his teaching system -
Eleventh century (via)
 What of translating heard sound to visual representation that doesn't need the mediation of education?

In 1951 Norman McLaren made the first of several films picturing sound, Pen Point Percussion; watch it here (6 minutes, including animation); ten years later he made Synchrony, deriving the visuals from the score -

Trisha Donnelly's "sound drawings" are discussed in this article.
HW, 2007 consists of "two cotton panels hung at the entrance to a gallery, each bearing a configuration of lines in black and blue embroidery. On the left, curved lines increasing in length resemble the sign for noise emitted from a speaker, while straight, parallel lines decrease in length, indicating a vibratory movement that diminishes with distance from its source. ... [a] latent aurality is central to HW which, hung at the entrance of an exhibition, coaxes viewers not just to look, but to listen to the works on display. ... these lines visualise the invisible, symbolising sound as a vibratory, wavelike movement."

Miro, Souvenir de Montroig (via)

The other side of the coin is to think of what an existing artwork - something by Miro, say - would sound like. A project at Aberdeen University considered this: "The dialogue between [sound and drawing] confronts experiences of time and space. Trace, gesture and sound patterns emerge in a process of multi-perceptual experience.  It is here that a drawing becomes a score, that a code triggers improvisation, that the rhythm of the body encounters the time of the clock, that the horizon of the eye merges with the track of the ear, and that the individual enters a shared experience."

And around the edge of that "coin", the sound of drawing - a table wired for sound, with a facilitator who takes participants through abstract drawing exercises, resulting in a large shared drawing.

To finish, this painting by Paul Klee is called "Ancient Sound" -

1 comment:

KAM said...

Margaret.....Thank you for this insightful and informative post. I have followed the links you provided and learned so much to put in my exploration tool box. The relation of sound to art... and art to sound is so interesting and your words have me requesting some books on sound from the library to be able to explore more about sound and the markings of sound. Much appreciation for this post, Margaret. Kristin