Since the beginning of recorded history, philosophers and scientists have sought to describe or represent sound by means of visual analogies. Many sound images are naturally graphic, appealing to our aesthetic appreciation of pattern and displaying exquisite form and structure. This invites the question, could the processes be reversed, and images with appealing structure or form yield aesthetically pleasing sounds? My creative research explores this premise, using image-to-sound data mapping to create sound-and-vision, or ‘visaural’ compositions.
I have dubbed this process 'intermedia frottage', by analogy to artist Max Ernst's original frottage technique. Imagination sparked by the images he saw on surfaces in his surroundings, Ernst took textural rubbings and enhanced prominent features. By taking digital 'rubbings' and converting the image data to sound, intermedia frottage can reveal not only 'faces', but 'voices' in the clouds. The process yields both predictable and unexpected results, from uncannily apt aural representations of the image to surreal juxtapositions that evoke new imagery in the listener's mind. Narrative threads arising from the combination of image and sound, as well as spontaneously-created melodic and harmonic content provide further directions for compositional exploration.
With the use of graphic synthesis software, the composer can draw sounds directly on the sound canvas. This means that sounds can be written to as well as read from the image. The image takes on the role of a graphic score, from which multiple readings, or interpretations are possible.
Intermedia frottage owes much to important 20th century arts concepts and practices such as the Futurist liberation of noise sounds, musique concre`te, found object and found process, Cagean aleatory, graphic notation, and to the drawn (or animated) film sound techniques of the late 1920's - 30's. The contributions of these practices are discussed in relation to the development of the process, and to the works produced as the creative component of the research.
The sound files are in a compressed format, and the full fidelity audio CD is available for loan with the exegesis from Southern Cross University Library (or from the creator). Similarly, the imagery is not available on the website collection, but a DVD or imagery is also available for loan with the exegesis from Southern Cross University Library (or from the creator).