The colour of sound: orange

orange

A short sample from the colour of sound: orange

To listen to the full version go to the Radio National Soundproof program.

 

Orange is the next colour to feature on the ABC Radio National series on colour and sound. In this episode we follow the story of Bainbridge Bishop who believed that sound could best be heard where two colours meet, that sonic energy vibrates between the shades of one colour to the next.

His inspiration?

Rainbows.

Bishop describes the orange seen at twilight, a soft warm colour. It is this description that set the tone for this latest instalment in the Colour of Sound series.

I was happy to get the talented Australian actress Belinda McClory to read for this episode. Belinda might be familiar to you as the character Switch in The Matrix.

Only two more colours to go in the series, Indigo and Violet. I hope you get the chance to listen to them in the coming weeks.

 

 

The colour of sound: green

green

A short sample of Green.

To hear the full track go to the Soundproof website.

The second series of The Colour of Sound has commenced on Radio National’s Soundproof program. The first episode in the series is Green.

Green charts the story of the German scientist and philosopher David Gottlob Diez as he deliberates on the connection between sound, the planets, and colour. Diez connected green with Venus, its aurora shrouding the planet in a veil of celestial static.

Tune in to the rest of the ROY-G-BIV colour and sound spectrum over the next few weeks.

Australian Gothic: a new Unfathomless release

U27_Jay-Dea Lopez_The Australian Gothic_CD onbody artwork

 

My latest work, The Australian Gothic, has recently been released on the Unfathomless label. Read below about the historical context of the Australian Gothic genre and the process of producing this particular composition.

Long before the fact of Australia was ever confirmed by explorers and cartographers it had already been imagined as a grotesque space, a land peopled by monsters. The idea of its existence was disputed, was even heretical for a time, and with the advent of the transportation of convicts its darkness seemed confirmed. The Antipodes was a world of reversals, the dark subconscious of Britain. It was, for all intents and purposes, Gothic par excellence, the dungeon of the world.

Gerry Turcotte (Australian Gothic. University of Wollongong.1998).

The Australian Gothic : a creative genre emphasising the terrors of isolation in this post-colonial land. The Australian Gothic exposes a tormented communal psyche weighted by dark secrets.

Australia, a country colonised in 1788 by unwilling convicts and prison guards. For these unfortunates Australia was a nightmarish location, its foreign terrain provoked feelings of fear and alienation. Gone was the British gothic landscape of moors and heaths. In its place were dangerous animals, deserts, bush-fires, floods and droughts. The comfortability of the known European landscape was replaced by this new unstable setting.

Integral to the colonisers’ sense of dislocation and dread was the Australian soundscape. Reading journals and novels from this era it is evident that the aural dimensions of the Australian landscape were strongly perceived in gothic terms of enclosure and entrapment. The vastness of the deserts unsettled the first colonisers who remarked upon its deathlike silence, while in the forests the mass of unfamiliar sounds induced intense feelings of fear and disorientation. This sparked feelings of loathing towards the newly colonised space, including the Aboriginal people. In the Australian Gothic tradition the landscape sounded alive, it surrounded and entrapped with suffocating force.

Growing up in a region where Aboriginal artifacts from the pre-colonial era could readily be found under shallow soil the bloody layers of history have always sat uncomfortably with me. We live on stolen land, a place where immoral and bloody actions happened in the recent past. We have a sense of un-belonging to this country. It is part of the Australian Gothic experience.

With this in mind I collected field recordings in my local valley of Main Arm, a place like much of Australia, partly suburban, partly open for farming. I wanted to create a composition that featured field recordings, both modified and unmodified, of sounds from local farms. Could we imagine ourselves in the past, a time when the steady expansion of the frontier into traditional Aboriginal land was a primary source of conflict?

Listening to the composition I hope a sense of unease and dread is provoked through its combination of sounds. Yet somewhere underneath its layers there is the suggestion of beauty, of what could have been. Listen and be transported into the fabric of Australia’s Gothic experience.

ABC Radio National: the sound of red

deep red colour

 

Red. A colour of extremes …

In this, the final episode of the primary colour series, we listen to the story of Russian composer and synaesthete Alexander Scriabin. Scriabin claimed to hear colour as different tones on the chromatic scale. He heard the colour deep red as “F” on the keyboard.

Over the next few months I will be working on the other colours in the ROYGBIV spectrum. Until then please visit Radio National to listen to Red, Yellow, and Blue.

ABC Radio National: the sound of yellow

yellow

 

Yellow, a colour that can provoke joy and nausea. Artists have used its binary shades to reflect summer’s vitality and our gradual decay. The negative connotations of yellow are quite strong in the English language. Consider: yellow-bellied, yellow-streak, yellow-journalism, yellow-fever.

If we were to imagine the sound of yellow, what would we hear? Viewing fields of sunflowers we might connect them with pleasant high pulses of energy; yet as their petals begin to fade their former sound could be replaced with low murky drones.

“Yellow” is the latest colour to be heard in my “Sound of Colour” series on ABC Radio National’s Soundproof. To listen or to download this piece please click here.

Next week, the colour red.

 

 

ABC Radio National: the sound of blue

IKB
IKB 191, monochromatic painting by Yves Klein

 

For the past few months I have been working on a short series of works interpreting the colour of sound for Australia’s Radio National.

This 3-part series features a combination of spoken word and soundscapes designed to reflect the emotional resonance that is shared by sound and colour.

The first episode, Blue, is now free to download through Radio National’s program Soundproof.

While you are visiting the Soundproof page check out their archive of radio art and other delicious audio features; all of which are freely available to download.

Click here to listen to my work The Colour of Sound: Blue.

Road trip: the Warrumbungles and hotel recordings

Warrumbungles

It is a strange experience visiting the place of your birth, a region left behind as a child with only family photographs and verbal anecdotes to support the fact that this period existed. The Warrumbungles National Park and its outlying farming districts where my family once lived had almost reached a mythological status in my mind so 41 years after moving away seemed more than an appropriate amount of time to visit it. 

Warrumbungles2

 

In what is otherwise a land dominated by flat fields of yellow wheat the Warrumbungles rise incongruously from the ground in ancient violent rocky eruptions. Once covered in a layer of green foliage the Warrumbungles were stripped bare by an intense bushfire in 2013 that burnt 43,000 hectares of eucalyptus forest to the ground. Driving through the area it was very evident that 80% of the park had been devastated. Blackened tree stumps were what remained of the forested hills although hints of greenery shooting from the cracked earth pointed towards regeneration in progress.

Looking at the devastated landscape it was no surprise that there was little in the way of sonic variety. Aside from a few birds in small pockets of surviving forest the dominant sound came from cicadas. It was a strong auditory marker of how the biodiversity of the park had virtually been extinguished.

On our first night at the Warrumbungles we watched the sun set behind the hills. As the sky deepened in colour the cicadas pulsated in the valley below us. The sound was omni-directional having no fixed perspective, no discernible layers of depth. It was as if the immense stretch of earth below us was breathing in slow measures.

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The experiences of the outside world were in sharp contrast to our hotel rooms. I’m always eager to explore these interior liminal spaces, searching for sounds that amplify our strange artificial worlds. Hermetic space capsules.

My favourite object to record was a TV in Canberra. A coil pickup microphone recorded this tiny musical siren perhaps warning of the health hazards associated with mind-numbing sit-coms and live-televised golf tournaments.

 

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Later I recorded the flickering tone of a fluorescent tube that cast its sickening light throughout the surface of the hotel bathroom. This was one example of a sound whose penetrating edges perfectly resembled its physical source.

And now the road trip is over …

… I am left with only a small selection of field recordings, the scorching heat of inland Australia in summer deterring me from spending much time standing in the sun with a microphone. However the moments that I did record are now etched strongly in my mind, much like the way in which drawing objects in situ helps reinforce the awareness of space.

Returning to the Warrumbungles as an adult, with no real memories of the region from childhood, I found myself wondering what other possibilities life would have presented had we stayed there and not moved to the east coast. It unsettled me a little. Hypotheticals.