How sound looks…..

How sound looks…..

Blue and Green Music by Georgia O’Keefe
Music – Pink and Blue No. 1 1918 by Georgia O’Keefe
Jazz Hot No1 F. Kupta
Chinese Music 1923 Arthur Dove
Swing Music 1938 Arthur Dove

During the course of my sound reliquary research I gathered some visual images relating to the translation of sound to visual. I can see a relationship between line and music, hard and soft edges, geometric form and organic shapes. Colour and how it moves across the piece, big blocks or gradual transition – loud staccato sound or meandering melody. Arthur Dove is new to me. His ‘extractions’, what he called his abstract arrangements show me increasing and decreasing sound. Pulsating red forms irregular and improvised. This language is an exciting exploration, maybe too many dark tones for the baby and mothers but something I’d like to play with in the studio – dialogue with colour. Darkness like the silence, nothingness in between the music. It’s easy to see a difference between the images above -hard machine/futurist forms of an outer surface and the inner expression of an immersive experience of the O’Keefes. Both two valid approaches to describing sound. Interestingly, (side note) there is a common denominator between Dove and O’Keefe, the photographer and modern art promoter Alfred Stieglitz. Stieglitz supported both artists, though became synonymous with the naked photos taken of O’Keefe, the gendered labeling of her paintings and his infidelity in their marriage. She finally escaped him, finding safe haven in the desert.

Music is the only art of sounds that are not in nature and almost entirely created. Man created the articulation of thoughts by words. He created writings, he created the airplane and the locomotive. Therefore, why may he not create in painting and sculpture independently of the forms and colours of the world about him? (Kupka, 1913)

Disks of Newton Frantisek Kupka – His own developed colour wheels

Initially Kupkas’ work spoke literally to me about music, movement and sound. I’ve discovered many more very interesting inter-related themes within his work featuring occulture, spiritualism, theosophy, colour theory and how he developed his own colour wheels. He believed in the interconnectedness of all things. “His method of both simplifying the subject into geometric forms and using a combination of warm and cold ‘sensory’ colours, interacted affectively with the viewer – and this method also differed from that of other artists mentioned. This ambitious aim to create a painting based on musical abstraction was nurtured in a spiritualised environment which strove to give shape to invisible contexts and make them visible. “ This approach has parallels with my own practice, these points of reference were unknown to me at the beginning of this post. This discovery will definitely inspire further research.

Thinking about the context of my TYB project continuing (this week I lead the session), and creating something in the theme of ‘how sound looks’ ……. This work is a departure from the educational framework; an attempt to establish a more equal partnership, a collaboration, an inclusive, participatory and empowering process for all involved. Artists, Mothers and Babys. Can we draw and paint music together or in conflict? Working communally, performatively on the floor (a literal flat hierarchy) on a piece would disrupt a single controlled outcome. We could achieve something significant together – a larger than A4 scale work. As a group exercise it would have more resonance as an activity, or process, maybe have more value – mirroring, mark making and performance to music. How useful is this as a creative exercise – learning another way to create marks by listening, not just looking? Aesthetically it probably may not be triumph (keep an open mind) but be a way of recording our response. Mapping momentary relations. “Minuscule events of the unnoticed” and an opportunity for me to develop further the methodology that created the ‘Drawn Mantle’ in the year 2 TYB project. Documentation of the mini event to follow.


Arellano, M [Accessed 14th Sept 2020]

Greig M, Seigworth G, 2010, The Affect Theory Reader, Duke University Press PDF [Accessed 11th Sept 2020]

Von Bonsdorff,AM Kupka: Sounding Abstraction – Musicality, Colour and Spiritualism [Accessed 14th Sept]