The Imager Project is aimed at organizing learning around the design and development of a visual music instrument, the Imager Visual Synthesizer. Imager will be an iPad app, designed to serve as a foundation for a generation of visual synthesizers conceived and built by the artists and musicians who want to play them.
The instrument will also serve as a kind of boundary object, which can be used to understand, test, and expand upon some of the big ideas that have arisen in the history of visual music. I announced this project in a video presentation at Seeing Sound 2020. This 15 minute presentation describes the vision and briefly identifies some of those ideas.
Willard Huntington Wright, The Future of Painting, 1923. The link is to a full text of the book that provided the structure for the talk.
John Loughery, Alias S. S. Van Dine: The Man Who Created Philo Vance, 1992. This is an engaging biography of Willard Huntington Wright which also provides great glimpses into the life of his artist brother, Stanton Macdonald-Wright.
Thomas Wilfred, “Light and the artist,” Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, June 1947, 247-255 and “Composing in the art of lumis,” December 1948, 79-93.
Stanton Macdonald-Wright, “A Treatise on color,” 1924 reproduced in the 1967 Smithsonian Retrospective Exhibition Catalog (edited by David W. Scott).
Thomas Cole, The Life and Works of Thomas Cole (Elliot S. Vessell, ed), Chapter 20, 1997.
John Whitney, Digital Harmony: On the Complementarity of Music and Visual Art, 1980.
Karl Gerstner, The Forms of Color: The Interaction of Visual Elements, 1986.
Gordon Pask, “A comment, a case history and a plan,” in Jasia Reichardt [ed.], Cybernetics, Art, and Ideas, London: Studio Vista, 1971, 76-99.
Contributions, with thanks!
The drummer/composer/improvisor appearing in the first clip is Anthony Taddeo.
The artist/teacher appearing in the second clip is Catherine Butler. The music was Chrissie Hynde’s Meditation on a Pair of Wire Cutters.
Stanton Macdonald-Wright’s 1960-69 piece is titled the Synchrome Kineidoscope. It is in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art collection.
I have long been a fan of the designer Saul Bass, most especially of his film work. When I was doing design demos last year, a couple of the participants commented that what they were seeing and creating “felt very Saul Bassish.” Recently I came across a collection of most of his title sequences (and posters where film is not available) on the Saul Bass page of Christian Annyas’ excellent site devoted to movie title stills. On the strength of spending several hours with them, I added Bass’ work to the time line with a 1955 entry for The Man with the Golden Arm.
Drummer Anthony Taddeo and I met and decided we wanted to work together on a project just before the sheltering brought on by COVID-19. When he got an opportunity to put together a solo show he sent me a note asking if I would play Imager on a couple of the pieces. I had one day to take in the music, design a response and record each piece in a single take. Here is a link to Anthony’s performance which took place on May 27th. My improvisations were on the piece JawHarp (4:30), which starts at 12:00, and Bowls (9:45), which begins around 27:30.
I just added a quote from Pat Metheny’s stimulating conversation about Music and the Brain at Neuroscience 2018, to the “path to melody” item in Correspondences. Pat struggles with how to talk about melody in a way reminiscent of those music theorists that the great painter Gyorgy Kepes looked to for guidance in 1944. In doing so, he adds an important piece to this most complex of visual music puzzles: the long narrative or how to move from idea to idea to idea.
I have been teaching design for almost forty years and have been part of the explosion of interest in Managing as Designing since its inception. I have also been a software designer throughout that time, having designed several large applications, including one of the earliest personal data managers (The Desk Organizer for the Apple II, IBM PC and Macintosh computers). Ken Kocienda’s Creative Selection gives the most direct, clear and honest portrait of software design that I have encountered. I just posted a brief synopsis in the Design section of the Bibliography.
Sunday I spent the morning with Richard Sharp, Will Coleman, Jesse Bransford, Lisa Martin and Meredith Kane at the Cole House in the Hudson River town of Catskill, seeing and discussing what is likely the first manifestation by an American painter of an interest in color music.
The piece is a stunning color wheel just under two feet in diameter. As its title—Diagram of Contrasts—suggests, it is particularly focused on the issue of contrast in color, with each of its twelve segments moving from near white to near black versions of one of six hues.