The Wave

A creative collaboration with musician – E C H O and artist – Lucy Hannah Barritt.

In May 2019 I was approached by a very old school friend who was working on the final year of her masters course in music. Georgina had seen some of the digital art I had been posting on my facebook page and asked if I would like to help her with one of her modules. I gladly accepted.

She gave complete creative control over to me. The idea was that I would write a brief for a project – the final out come of which would be a time-lapse video of the journey of a painting. She would then compose a piece of music that would follow the brief and the video, combining three mediums – Art, Music and Video.

The Wave

I thought about how I could paint something that would also speak to the philosophy of music. Firstly, I considered what music IS. The wave form of a sound is divided into the peak and the trough, the movement from high to low and the speed at which that travels through the air dictates the frequency of the sound. This also fits well within the spectrum of sounds that are used in music to create a balanced composition eg: bass and treble.

This movement between two extremes became the foundation of the project. I wanted to create a piece of work that referenced the dualistic nature of life both in composition and colour. I thought about abstract partnerships and dualities such as:

  • Day/Night
  • Life/Death
  • Male/Female
  • Hot/Cold
  • Heart/Mind
  • Fire/Ice
  • Good/Bad
  • Hunter/Prey
  • Space and Time
  • Cause and Effect
  • Alpha and Omega
  • High and Low
  • Sun and Moon

A central element was required to link the two halves together.  After some thought I conceived that the this would be the observer, the interpreter of the wave function that renders a wave form into sound or image.

“If a tree falls in the forest and there’s nobody around to hear it, does it make a sound?”

This well known Buddhist Koan or Mind Knot inspired me to put a humanistic element as the final part of the puzzle that ties the two pieces together.  Without consciousness, this energy in the wave function of light and sound is arbitrary and only with the addition of the mind is meaning imbued. A tree portrait would be split down the middle and intersect each half as a way of binding them together as does the observer in a universe of random events.  

Alex Gray is a great inspiration to me and this painting – ‘Net of Being’ is behind the composition of the central tree element.

After talking my ideas over with Georgie on Skype I began a first draft of the painting.

I was working entirely out of my element and I knew I would need to do a basic first draft in order to work through the colours, composition and lighting of a landscape piece. This is probably the first full landscape painting I have ever done and it was slow work. I spend around 4 weeks working through a trial and error process, attempting to make what I had in my mind a reality.

First draft – a basic rendering of my initial ideas. I wouldn’t normally do a first draft but I knew I would need to think a little harder for something that was so out of my comfort zone.

At this point I began to consider the Hindu concept of the trinity – Brahma, Vishu and Shiva. They symbolise the forces of creation, continuation and destruction. The multi headed God-figures that exist in many Hindu artworks also worked well within the painting and as I moved onto the final piece I sourced some Hindu paintings that could help me as I considered how to render the figures.

The Mountains represent the sound wave rising and falling behind everything in the slow pace at which geological forms exist and evolve. This also works well with the Hindu concepts of vast cosmic time or Yugas.

As mentioned, the figures are loosely based in the Hindu trinity – to the left is Vishnu the preserver. He is maintaining the cosmic garden and balancing out his counterpart to the right – Shiva – the destroyer. In the centre is Brahma the creator held in the archetype of a tree that spans both realms. The balance of all elements is apparent in every part of life and any successful creative endeavour.

I used Photoshop to paint the final piece using a Wacom Intuos drawing tablet, all the time capturing the process using QuickTime screen recording. With iMovie I sped up each video by 20 times and amassed a series of shots that documented the process.

Once the piece was completed I edited the 50 plus minutes of time-lapsed footage into one 5 minute story. I sent the video to Georgina who completed the second half of the brief. She composed and recorded an incredibly moving piece of piano music that follows the movement and evolution of the video perfectly. I am amazed at her talent and am unbelievably proud of the final product that we created together:

This was a first for me and has been a wonderfully challenging and interesting education in collaboration and digital arts. Georgina has suggested we reverse engineer the next collaboration and I create a painting/video that follows a piece of music that she composes.

We are currently on the first stages of developing this new project and I’m very excited to see what the final outcome will be as we flip the process.

I am so grateful to E C H O a.k.a Georgina for asking me to be part of this project. Please check out her other work on her YouTube Channel. She is exceptionally talented and patient.

If you have any ideas or would like to do a collaboration please feel free to contact me.

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