Ulla von Brandenburg, Julien Discrit, Thomas Dupouy and Laurent Montaron
The SLG, http://www.southlondongallery.org presents the UK premiere of a new performance of a work originally created for the New Festival, Centre Pompidou, Paris in 2009. Taking as their starting point the phenomenon of synaesthesia, a neurological process which automatically links one sense to another, the collaborating artists have made a new piece focusing on the idea of somebody seeing colours when they hear music. Working with a synaesthesist, a minimal and static music piece is played on three traditional reed organs and then translated into a colour system simultaneously projected into the space.
The poetic title, a quote from Arthur Rimbaud’s ‘Metropolitain’ lured me into attending SLG art performance piece. Recalling a paperback wrapped in ‘Illuminations’ and filled with verbal delights by this complex and often romantic poet, I was unprepared for a violent affront to my aural senses in the packed hall at the SLG.
The room was filled with sound that gruesomely pared down to a grinding and grating noise was… drone. I endured the long hour watching the keyboard players fingers seemingly glued unrelentingly to the same key. The card players finger’s were busy shuffling for arrangements corresponding in color to the sound from stacks of cards in varying colours layed out on the table next to him. Sound is a like taste, a sense, difficult to substantiate
My imaginations dealt a far darker shade than those of Mr. Claude-Samuel Levine, the card player. Thomas Dupouy later explained that it was minimalist experimental pieces they are interested in composing, and that the sheets of tightly printed musical notes were only an indication, and guidance to their piece. Likewise interpretations of music into color varied from person to person.
Synestaesia is a persistent mystery, a kind of black hole into which creative researchers stumble in ever expanding circles of uncertainty, to go nowhere fast. So Intriguing is the thought of communicating in multi sensory manner that theories on color in associations with music and literature abound and have piled up since Aristotles times , with no consistent result other than to confuse those interested in the subject like myself. Where do you start? Wittgenstein, Goethe, Plato, symbolisms of colour in multicultural society? What painter has not dreamt of singing his paintings? Be they personally synestaetically inclined or not. Colour trapped in a black hole or on a flat screen, the mystery persists
Or am I missing something?
Equally there is controversy as to interpreting Rimbaud’s line’s in Metropolitaine, which it is said is a description of London in late 1889. It must have been winter, when he wrote:
‘The morning when with Her you struggled among the glitterings of snow, those green lips, those glaciers, black banners and blue beams, and the purple perfumes of the polar sun’.
See also Sumit Paul-Choudhury, article in the New Scientist: http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/culturelab/2011/01/hearing-music-through-someone-elses-eyes.html