Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Visual Music

This is Michael Carter. The east-coast premiere of my piece, “Well (Live)” will be showing at Northeastern University's Visual Music Marathon on April 28th during Boston Cyberarts 2007.

I feel like the term “visual music” is not so common and not so defined (even for an artist working in the “genre”), so I want to briefly say what it means to me and how I approach it.

For me, visual music is not about finding a one to one “translation” between music and image. I don't see the goal as creating a new language by connecting term for term the typical descriptions of sound and music (note, pitch, timbre, etc) with visual counterparts (color, value, shape, etc).

I'm concerned with infusing, or maybe even rejuvenating, visual art with the primacy, directness and effectiveness of music.

Music is unique among the arts in its directness and effectiveness in reaching and creating “inner” emotional and psychological states. Between musician and audience, music communicates “meaning” and “feeling” with potent results. The ability to experience the world from the point-of-view of another, which is so rare and difficult in the normal day-to-day world, happens almost effortlessly in music. We hear the music and we experience it; We feel it directly in our bodies. And, if we look at the moment before taste or preference kicks in, everyone hears the same sounds in the same way. It's message is immediate and intuitive and we are connected by this shared experience.

Yet, for the visual artist, this feat is accomplished without two important qualities: you can't see and you can't touch music. It has no physical form or substance. It is not materially “real”.

For me, then, visual music is a process of connecting the visible world to the invisible world. It is an admission that the unreal is real, that the intangible and imperceptible exist and affect us everyday.

The invisible manifest in the visible - That's what visual music means to me.

“Well(live)” is running during the 3-4pm block in an all-day program of current and historical works by many excellent artists.

Oh, and I had granola for breakfast this morning. ;)

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