I am synesthetic so I work with sound to create abstracts from what I “see” when I hear sounds or music. I’ve been working with two sounds at the moment one is a song and one a recording of an F1 engine I made at one of my visits to the Festival of Speed.
I love my airbrush, it is helping me create the pieces as I imagine them with more accuracy than any other tool outside my own hands. I’ve been experimenting with colour, form, effects and different kinds of paint both on two dimensional panels and three dimensional forms (jewellery, my bass etc).
The first and more complete series of works is derived from the bassline, guitar and synth parts from “Stockholm Syndrome” by Muse and comprises a ring, brooch, necklace and an imaginary album cover, a 12″x12″ painted panel. The second series has started with an imaginary album cover 12″x12″ painted panel and will be derived from a BMW F1 engine.
“Heavy Bassline (Stockholm Syndrome)” focuses on the bass sound which is initially a little hard to see, baselines tend to be dark colours and fluid shapes deep in the soundscape. It often looks a little like magnetic ferro-fluid. The guitars are easy to see white lightning, the synth sound that appears half way through the song form “bubbles” on red vertical lines. There are other things I could have included, the drums for instance but it all gets too cluttered if I try to translate everything, and that’s not the point either.
I start by listening: repeatedly. Drawing my brain’s synesthetic response to sound is essentially trying to draw an abstract animation set in space, which is tricky. Luckily the same shapes will repeat themselves as I listen over and over again. I’d compare it to trying to draw a galloping horse. Sometimes I do large fast sketches of one aspect sometimes I amalgamate several impressions into one aggregated sketch. Below is the aggregated sketch for “Stockholm Syndrome” and the large quick sketch of the F1 engine.
With “Stockholm Syndrome” I started with the bassline and drew up several sketches of jewellery that I had no idea how I was going to make!
There followed plenty of modelling but I eventually settled on using Polymorph which is an amazing thermoplastic that is a gel at 62C so you can hand model it, but hardens to become like hard white nylon.
Then I airbrush painted the bassline forms layering and working back using reds, purples, pinks and black to achieve the effect I wanted. Once painted I then used an epoxy resin to create an anti-gravity drip/liquid effect so that when the piece is worn the bassline shape looks as if it is subject to some strange invisible force.
A little completion with tourmalines, carnelians and garnets to represent the distortion effects on the bassline.
Then for the necklace the guitar and synth parts needed adding in the form of cut and painted pieces threaded round the stones. These were to look almost line drawn in contrast to the fluidity of the bass part so were stark black and white.
Next up is the “Imaginary Album Cover” its seems appropriate that images derived from sound should go on their own album cover so I paint onto a 12″x12″ aluminium composite panel to feel as close to a record as possible. I may also do a few little 7″ too. I paint on both sides. the background is always a spacescape as I “see” the abstract shapes against a dark background and it feels like a big space so where better to set these weird shapes than the outer reaches of the universe? Here is the finished Stockholm Syndrome album cover and the in progress BMW F1 cover.
On a bit of a side note, I found the below in a very old sketchbook (around 1995), I think it must be the first synesthetic drawing I ever did. I remember doing it before I knew anything about being synesthetic. I just had this abstract in my head and had to get it on paper. It’s been a longer journey than I thought! I mostly used oil pastels back then.