audio

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Art Music

Sound Waves from Contemporary Music Become Traditional Chinese Landscapes in Du Kun's Scroll Paintings

July 7, 2021

Grace Ebert

Detail of “登楼 / Going Upstairs” (2021), scroll, ink and color on silk, 50 × 600 centimeters (painting), 51 × 836 centimeters (scroll), 62 × 11 × 12 centimeters (camphor wood box)

“Playing music is my only hobby,” says artist Du Kun, who pairs his longtime passion for the auditory art form with the traditional Chinese landscapes his father taught him to paint as a child. This compilation takes shape in his sprawling, layered scenes that follow lush groves and steep rock formations across silk scrolls stretching nearly nine meters. Each one of the natural features is the artist’s translation of a sound wave, which turns an eccentric array of tracks into wide, serene landscapes.

In a short video detailing his multi-faceted process, Du (previously) strums an acoustic guitar and taps percussive beats that he then digitally manipulates to form arched bridges or a whimsically rendered cloud that blows the length of the scroll. He combines multiple instruments and tracks for greater perspective and depth than a single recording would provide, rendering rich works that transform sung melodies into birds and clouds or the repetitive rhythms of electronic music into segmented architecture.

 

“电音云龙图 (Cloud Dragon in Electronic Noise)” (2020), scroll, ink, and color on silk, 70 × 860 centimeters (painting), 75 × 1172 centimeters (scroll), 82 × 11 × 12 centimeters (camphor wood box)

There’s an implied conversation between the visual and audio elements, Du says, describing how he uses “the mood of the painting as an initial guiding foundation to break away from the conventional routines of music arrangement.” Painting styles typically associated with the Song Dynasty and contemporary audio converge in the works in a seamless mix of time and sensory experiences, which he explains:

By using painting to influence music, the elements of music are transformed into these landscape paintings, becoming a new kind of music score. This series of works bring traditional Chinese paintings and modern music together, where ‘static’ and ‘noise’ are simultaneously present in the works—causing mutual influence, interdependency, and translation with one another. Just like two people who speak different languages but find a special way to communicate with each other.

The works shown here are part of Du’s solo exhibition titled Scores of Landscapes, which is on view in-person and virtually at Mizuma Gallery in Singapore through July 18.

 

Detail of “登楼 / Going Upstairs” (2021), scroll, ink and color on silk, 50 × 600 centimeters (painting), 51 × 836 centimeters (scroll), 62 × 11 × 12 centimeters (camphor wood box)

“临江听筝 (Listening to the Guzheng While Overlooking a River)” (2021), ink and color on silk, 27 × 150 centimeters (painting), 33 × 180 centimeters (silk), 39 × 186 × 5 centimeters (framed)

Details of “三远即兴 (Sanyuan Improvisation)” (2021), ink and color on silk, 19 × 136 centimeters (painting), 25 × 180 centimeters (silk), 30 × 186 × 3 centimeters (framed)

“三远即兴 (Sanyuan Improvisation)” (2021), ink and color on silk, 19 × 136 centimeters (painting), 25 × 180 centimeters (silk), 30 × 186 × 3 centimeters (framed)

Detail of “登楼 / Going Upstairs” (2021), scroll, ink and color on silk, 50 × 600 centimeters (painting), 51 × 836 centimeters (scroll), 62 × 11 × 12 centimeters (camphor wood box)

Detail of “临江听筝 (Listening to the Guzheng While Overlooking a River)” (2021), ink and color on silk, 27 × 150 centimeters (painting), 33 × 180 centimeters (silk), 39 × 186 × 5 centimeters (framed)

“登楼 / Going Upstairs” (2021), scroll, ink and color on silk, 50 × 600 centimeters (painting), 51 × 836 centimeters (scroll), 62 × 11 × 12 centimeters (camphor wood box)

 

 



Documentary

Footsteps: How an Isolated Artificial Home in Ontario Produces Sound for Myriad Blockbuster Films

May 21, 2021

Grace Ebert

A modest house nestled into the bucolic countryside of Uxbridge, Ontario, is home to a premier sound facility behind an impressive array of films, TV series, and video games. Brimming with an eclectic collection of objects and antiques, Footsteps Studio has aided in the post-production audio effects for projects like The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, The Big Short, and The Handmaid’s Tale all generated by a small team on the unassuming grounds.

In a short documentary, director Jeremy Benning tours the workspace— each room of the house functions as a recording studio and is insulated by an elaborate outer wall engineered to act as a buffer from outdoor noises—and speaks with three Foley artists responsible for enhancing audio experiences following filming. Benning goes behind the scenes with the company to demonstrate the laborious snd surprising methods used to artificially intensify the sound effects, whether as the clatter of a skateboard, the gnashing of a zombie feast, or the deviously subtle clip-clop of high-heeled shoes.

Watch the full documentary above to see more of the unusual techniques behind some of today’s most iconic productions. (via Short of the Week)

 

 

 



Art Photography

Glowing Geometric Light Paintings Dance Above Sparse Landscapes in Reuben Wu's Audiovisual Works

April 26, 2021

Grace Ebert

Paired with static, beeps, and soft melodic sequences, a series of glowing geometric shapes by Reuben Wu (previously) appear to emerge from the air in his new project, EX STASIS. Created in his signature otherworldly style, the Chicago-based photographer draws on both his Lux Noctis and Aeroglyph series, which use a combination of drones and light painting, to illuminate the rugged topographies with rings, tubes, and dots that spin and contort in hypnotic motion.

For EX STASIS, Wu programmed a stick of 200 LED lights to shift in color and shape above the calm landscapes. He captured the mesmerizing movements in-camera, and through a combination of stills, timelapse, and real-time footage, produced four audiovisual works that juxtapose the natural scenery with the artificially produced light and electronic sounds. “As it gets dark, my surroundings cease to be an exterior experience and become a subliminal space, and that’s when I feel most connected and aware of my sense of being,” Wu says. “This dynamic terrestrial chiaroscuro synchronizes with my sound design and music to form singular looping pieces.”

Find more of the photographer’s light-focused works on Instagram, Twitter, and Behance.

 

A still from “EX STASIS I”

A still from “EX STASIS III”

A still from “EX STASIS II”

A still from “EX STASIS IV”

 

 



Dance Music

A New One-Take BBC Ad Brilliantly Interprets the Feelings of Music Through Clever Choreography

October 7, 2020

Grace Ebert

It’s well-documented that music moves us, and an advertisement for BBC Sounds takes that research literally. A project of Rogue Films, the one-minute clip opens on a woman riding a city bus before swooping into a responsively choreographed dance enhanced by visual effects. Each subject, including an unassuming dog, sways and spins to the diverse array of sounds pumping through their headphones or the speakers in a coffee shop. Two women twist in double-helix, a figure floats calmly mid-air, and another stares at hovering objects while she listens to astronauts in space.

Based in London, the production company says on Twitter that the socially distant advertisement was shot in one take on a cordoned-off city street.

 

 

 



Design Music

A Drawing Machine Linked to A Synthesizer Audiates Geometric Illustrations by Musician Lamond Campbell

July 28, 2020

Grace Ebert

Beyond the scratch of the pen on paper, drawing as a practice isn’t thought to be particularly rhythmic or melodic. An inventive machine by musician Lamond Campbell, though, adds a musical component to its looped sketches. The Harmonograph Synthesiser is exactly as its name suggests: Campbell connected a modern, modular synthesizer to an 18th-Century harmonograph, an antiquated apparatus that uses pendulums to render geometric shapes. Two of the swinging mechanisms move linearly with the pen, while the third rotates with the board. Each triggers the synthesizer when movement occurs, which creates the corresponding audio track. An additional microphone picks up the noise of the pen.

Watch the video above to see the intricacies of the modified contraption. Campell is selling a complete, 18-track collection on his site, and you can find more about his multi-media creations on Instagram and YouTube. To see a reverse audio-visual process, check out “Visual Sounds of the Amazon II.” (thnx, Craig!)

 

 

 



Design Music

Cut Your Own Vinyl with this DIY Record Engraver and Player Designed by Yuri Suzuki

April 1, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Yuri Suzuki

Making mixtapes and burning CDs might be a forgotten pastime, but the days of simple, homemade vinyl are just arriving thanks to Yuri Suzuki. The London-based designer, who is also a partner at Pentagram, has created the Easy Record Maker, a small device that makes audio recording straightforward and accessible to the general public.

By plugging in an auxiliary cable or USB and playing audio through a phone or other digital device, the cutting arm receives the sound vibrations and engraves the blank plastic three to four times within a single millimeter. Each side of the 5-inch record takes about four minutes to complete. When ready to play, the machine’s cutting piece should be swapped for the tone arm, which is large enough to accommodate traditional 7-inch EPs.

In an interview with It’s Nice That, Suzuki said that creating a DIY-record engraver has been one of his goals since his teenage days as part of a ska-punk band when he didn’t have the financial resources to use professional recording equipment. While that difficulty persists today, the designer said he also hoped this audio project would encourage users to focus and have fun. “Sound has a strong impact on our emotions and the way we behave, and I always try to create an experience with sound that as many people as possible can relate to,” he said.

The Easy Record Maker is currently available from Gakken in Japan and will be released to U.S. and U.K. audiences in the coming months. For a live demo, head to Suzuki’s Instagram this Friday to check out what he shares on IGTV.