Project 2 Exercise 2.5: Works based on music

This proved to be the most fascinating of the exercises from a very point of view as I did the first part twice – once without my hearing aid and once with and this has shown me how for the first time I can use my partial deafness as a real advantage as my marks proved quite different!

The first part of this exercise asks me to look at the website of Alison Carlier and record my response to her work and in truth I am not sure what my response is – I think this artist whose work you need to experience in person to fully understand.  The audio drawings she creates are ones that the ‘spectator’ completes in response to works often based on what she terms ‘the privileged languages’ of archaeology, geology or chemistry – the spectator may not understand what is being said or the fluency and according to her website that lack of understanding etc becomes part of the work.  I am intrigued by the nature of this style of work – the artist effectively draws with words in such a way that the spectator holds the pen or pencil imaginatively in order to complete or fill in the remaining parts of the ‘drawing’ imaginatively and although I can visualise what is meant and what she is trying to do I am finding it hard to put into words myself!  I think the only word I can use to respond accurately is ‘intriguing’ – or maybe ‘fascinating’ as this is a very different use of words in art to any I have come across previously.

The exercise centred on usual the sounds created by machinery as the music and the instructions were to use marks in a variety of media to record the aforesaid sounds and also how I felt about what I created – for me personally this was very revealing as I have discovered that my deafness can be used artistically and rather than an unseen disability it feels now that it could also be seen as a gift. During the exercise the course material instructs the student to listen for rhythm and pattern in the sounds and to choose the 3 different pieces of machinery due to their differences in pitch, rhythm and volume or any other quality each may have.

The first sound I listened to was the sound of my freezer – this image is with my hearing aid – I used charcoal as the media and was able to produce marks which were more subtle as I could hear the more gentle hum of the motor.  My freezer motor can make noises in long periods that produce peaks of sound and with the hearing aids these almost seem like a heartbeat but then you have that rhythmic hum between the beats – the sound is clearer and the peaks distinct with the aids but the overall sound feels softer somehow.  As an interesting experiment half way down this page I close my eyes and carried on mark making and this allowed me to really focus on what I was hearing.

Without my aid you can see that I could not hear any of the nuances of the freezer and just heard the distinct peaks of the sound of the motor along with a rattling sound or what I term a ‘grump’ in the occasional calm periods – I could barely hear the hum of the motor as it seemed to me to stop.  The marks for both of these images encouraged me to do the same experiment with the other two sounds I chose.

I decided to do all these exercises on the same paper – not sure if this was a conscious decision or one that I just felt more comfortable with at this stage and for two of the exercises chose charcoal due to the fact this is a media I have not used very much in my previous artistic explorations and so wanted to explore the possibilities of how I could incorporate it the sticks or the pencils.

The second sound was the sound of my washing machine – with my aids my marks were harder and more defined and the rhythmic turns of the drum can be seen considerably clearer.  I could detect the breaks between the spinning cycles where there was a gentle almost shaky hum which I felt able to reproduce – by this point of the exercise I felt I was starting to loosen up and relax into what I was trying to achieve.

The version without the marks are softer and blend together more with less distinction of the rhythm as it was softened.  The gaps in that rhythm were less distinct as I could not hear that hum.

I really like the difference in these two pieces of work – the marks are similar but almost contrasting and it would useful to repeat this exercise with another media such as paint and crayon with the two different versions done on top of each other to produce a new piece … one set of marks becomes the echo of the other.

The final sound I chose was that of a car engine – my comment in my sketchbook was this was so cool to do (not artistic at all but just cool!!).  With my aids I felt able to really replicate all the distinct changes of sounds of the engine and be really expressive in my mark making – there were distinct rhythms and changes of pitch and volume but also subtleties that whirred together.  For this version I used a 1 inch paint brush and ink as I felt able to use the combination well and felt it would be appropriate to what I wanted to express – the black ink reminded me of the oil of the car.

Without my aids my marks were almost

more defined – and each line shows almost a different sound although the engine I listened to was the same one and it was turned off and restarted so that I could almost listened to the same musical piece and the sounds followed on from one another.  I could only hear certain distinct rhythms and without the more subtle tones and grumbles that an engine makes.

For the final piece on this exercise I am asked to develop a new drawing to a new sound but this time changing the format I draw on to.  I chose a piece of large card that was part of  photo frame packaging, approximately A2 in size, and chose a lawnmower to work with and a large marker pen.

Initially the lawnmower was started up and I was able to depict the engine starting to run before it eventually settled into a fast but rhythmic series of sounds – this proved in effect the easiest of the sounds to reproduce.

This has been a revealing exercise as I stated at the beginning in part due to the fact I chose to add a further element to the pieces in that I did two version for each of the machinery sounds in order that I could see what my responses were using my hearing aids and without and how different my marks would be.

From the point of the fact that this exercise used machinery as the musical sounds it was really fascinating as each set of sounds were considerably different and produced their own rhythms.  As I now look at the work of Andrew Scott I can understand his drawing process of including the mark making, drawing and painting and also how he translates his ideas into the rhythmic patterns – I understand how the exercises I have done could be developed in a similar nature.

I am wanting to explore sounds further particular as I have the, almost advantage, of being able to hear two different versions depending on my use of my hearing aids – when I get my second aid fixed I will have a third option available too as I am fully aware my hearing is obviously enhanced with the use of both …. ‘enhanced’ may seem a strange choice of words because when both aids are used it takes my hearing to a level which is considered ‘normal’ but to me it is like a fully hearing person listening to say a piece of music with hearing aids with the volume turned up fully!    What I am trying to convey here is that I want to explore the differing qualities of music and sound with my aids and without in order to produce further work and explore the patterns that could potentially be produced.

A weak spot for me in these exercises is my use of media – I need to really start to loosen up and be more experimental with my choices but I am also relatively happen how I have started to explore and enjoy the use of charcoal for the fact that I can work with it in an expressive manner.  I also like the use of ink and a brush rather than pen as I felt able to do very expressive and rhythmic marks particularly if holding my brush loosely.  I do want to try other forms of media and also larger sheets of paper perhaps with a brush on the end of a stick or held at arms length as I listen to a sound or piece of music – for this experimentation space is restrictive within my home but spring and summer is coming as I write and I  have a large picnic bench in my back garden that will be suitable for working on larger pieces.

By using different approaches to music and sound it is interesting to compare the marks made by the different media although I chose softer and more expressive media that was easier to use for me personally.  Overall this approach has changed my way of thinking though due to the fact I am now listening to sounds and wondering how I can translate them into marks and this is something I want to continue to work on – as the next exercise will now doubt prove mark making is something I consider a weaker area and something I feel this approach to drawing with music may help develop and improve.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Arts Thread Limited. 2016.  Andrew Scott Textile Design BDES (Hons) [online].  [Date Accessed:  18 March 2017].  Available from:  https://www.artsthread.com/profile/andrewscott/

Carlier, A.  (date unknown).  Alison Carlier [online].  [Date Accessed:  18 March 2017].  Available from:  http://alisoncarlier.com/home.html

Scott, A.  (date unknown).  Andrew Scott Design [online].  [Date Accessed:  18 March 2017].  Available from:  https://andrewscottdesign.wordpress.com/

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