blowpainting_pinOur trio met for the last time yesterday afternoon to conclude our Leeds Creative Labs delving into sound and I have to admit I’m feeling a little sad that it is over (for now but we have plans a plenty).  We took time to reflect so that we can try to share with the group next week our thinking, influences and processes in the development of Seeing Sound and the what next.  Reflecting at this point enabled us to look back at our collaboration and the opportunity it has given us personally and as such I want to expand on the visual journey I created through 139 pins that document my research around Seeing Sound and inspiration for the development of some of our ideas. You can see the whole Seeing Sound Pinterest board there  (go to the bottom and work your way up) and I will try to pull out specific pins that have a particular relevance (to me or the trio) as I move through the series that evolved over the weeks in response to our conversations when we met.

Introduction to Seeing Sound

We initially started talking and there was a lot of chat and I found myself saying nothing much, just listening. I had very little experience of thinking about sound and how it can be visualised but Kia and Shay obviously did. This is where my Pinterest journey started.  Corn Starch videoOne of the things in the early days that was talked about was corn starch and how it tranforms when water is added and it is agitated. I had never seen this phenomenon and I was totally mesmerside when I saw it.  Looks like little Morph like people springing to life and it’s a bit like the living vegetable entity that is under the bed in Pan’s Labyrinth.

Here’s the Corn Startch video and there are several other but slightly different examples on the pins around it and here is another suprise that Shay showed us, Ferro Fluid.

Children and music

Working with young children to explore their visual responses to sound had come up in conversation and something I was interested in exploring having done a lot of co-design work with a wide range of people of all ages in the past.  I’ve also been a volunteer classroom assistant to a group of year 1 pupils (5 years old) and  had witnessed first hand the buzz they get during their 30 minute music lesson where they sing, move and play instruments together as a group and the uplifiting effect it has for them as they return to the classroom environment for desk based activity.  I found a series on CBeebies called Melody aimed at encouraging young children to engage with classical music.  This was based more around engaging them via a narrative and the example shows Flight of the Bumble Bee but interesting that this is an area of focus for childrens TV and something children quite likely find engaging.

Abstract and organic


As you move up the board now you will see a series of what I see as beautiful images, some organic, some hand painted some computer generated.  These appeared after a meeting where we tried to sum up what we were doing and where we were heading.  Organic and abstract were the two words we settled on.  The images I pinned I could see moving, transforming, unfurling and they somehow hinted at an abstract musical score created with vibrant, translucent colour and  irregular shapes with a good smattering of hairy feelers that if animated could be so subtle and represent the tiniest, whispering sound.

Space and sound

Moving on again my thoughts then lead onto the space within the screen and how horizontal and vertical layers could be used and how Jame’s TurrelsJames_turrel light installations could represent big sounds and big space.

Anish_KapoorI was drawn to Anish Kapoor, the basic palette in the works I have selected has quite an impact and the shapes themselves could generate soft and sharp sounds that might build and disappear as they do into dust or resonate and fade softly to nothing.

watercolourThis computer generated visualisation  looked to me like ink travelling through water.  Kia and Shay were engrosed as we watched at out meeting commenting on the processing power of the machine that could play this creation and how is looked so not computer generated and touched on some of experiments Shay had been doing with water colours to use as brushes for the prototype system he was working on.  As a novice in Seeing Sound I was chuffed I’d found something that Kia was excited about and had never seen :-).

Early film

Above this there are a series of pins pulling together a cluster of links to early experiments with film where much of the visualisation was hand made straight onto the celluloid and kind of a created a nice loop back to what we were trying Film_dotsto achieve by taking the computer out of computer generated images.  I’d worked straight onto film during my Fine Art degree days and could imagine the excitement the artist of those early days of film must have felt working sound and moving image together.  I asked Kia and Shay if they had seen Stan Brakhage’s Mothlight and how he had stuck moths wings directly onto film and projected it, they hadn’t and I had completely forgot until now.

Who to work with
ArtsmarkPins now become less visually interesting as I started to explore organisations and programmes that support our idea to engage with young children to explore visual responses to sound.  I also looked the the curriculum for primary education and how our idea might fit within it (you can’t pin from the site but if you are interested look here).


Let’s make great art

I watched the Do Lectures video from Marion Deuchars – AllLetsmakegreatart children are artists.  And why you should never grow up.  She has also created a book called Let’s Make Great Art with 10 experiments for the old and young to do.  In the video she shows clips of the work children have created and notes that around the age of 10 years a child becomes more conscious of getting things ‘right’ and are less likely to experiment freely.  This was an interesting point and something we need to look at more closley if we are to get the kind of exciting responses to sound that we anticpate by working with children.  I was inspired by some of the suggested experiments and set about creating some blow painting visuals using food colouring, a straw and a bit of puff.  I took a few snaps along the way and compiled them as a video – short but sweet.  This helped me to start to understand how we might work with children, tools and methods we might use and explore the three themes we had identified: colour, shape and motion.

Apps and animation


composite image


Spinning top pen

They are also a few pins looking at apps as I started to think about the practicalities of getting children to create imagery in a hands on messy way and if there might be an opportunity to use free and simple apps to create animated imagery.  I made some experiments myself on a few apps on my ipad and created a  composite image from the blow painting experiment and a spinning top pen and stills from some animated experiments.

What next

It’s has been a really enjoyable, educational and creative journey so far and we’ll be sharing our plans for the future in the final labs meet up.  Shay has his own project blog on Tumblr, Sonic Journey where you can see his plinky plonk experiments and the prototype he has developed.

Go get some paint, a straw and get puffing.