Wednesday 10 December 2014

A visit to the studio

A visit to the studio by someone who really gets the message

Bob Shingleton, author of the excellent classical music blog On an Overgrown Path, was in the Netherlands recently and his latest blog includes an account (with his own photos) of his visit to my studio and home. His skillful inclusion of multiple links ("paths") to his earlier blogs on audio-visual relationships, to my own convictions and to my video trailers of performances, has created one of the most complete surveys of my live kinetic painting to music to date - and places my kinetic visuals in the context of current discussion. To express my appreciation I'm reproducing Bob's text here.

"My first destination was Norman Perryman's studio in Amsterdam. Norman's experiments in fusing kinetic art with classical music have long appealed to me, and when I wrote about his Aldeburgh Festival appearance with Pierre Laurent-Aimard I asked Has classical music finally found its contact high? 

Norman works exclusively in the analogue domain. He paints on multiple overhead projectors, and the audience can watch the creation and dissolution of his fluid images on a giant screen in real time, as his brushwork flows, pulsates convulses in time with the music.
Quite understandably, there is currently a backlash against the distracting accretions that marketeers are imposing on live classical music. But it would be very unfortunate if Norman Perryman's pioneering work is swamped by this backlash. As explained in an earlier post, a paper titled Acoustic Space - Explorations in Communication Edmund Carpenter and Marshall McLuhan described how most of our thinking is done in terms of visual models, even when using an auditory one might prove more efficient. Since that paper was published in 1970, the swing from the auditory to the visual has been accelerated by the universal adoption of graphic interfaces for computers. Yet classical music has done very little to acknowledge this inexorable swing from aural to visual acuity. 
Perryman's other work: watercolours on paper of great musicians, for the Birmingham Symphony Hall Collection.

The role call of musicians who have embraced Norman's marriage of kinetic art and music include Simon Rattle, whose 1993 City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra performance of Pictures at an Exhibition was given a kinetic dimension by Norman - a performance described by the Times music critic as "an ingenious audio-visual experiment, with brilliantly conceived imagery".

Currently fashionable accretions such as balloons and tweeting in concerts do not complement live classical music: they fight against it. By contrast Norman Perryman's kinetic art is an extension of the performance: he is part of the performing ensemble with a brush as his instrument. Norman's work in progress includes adding a visual dimension to a transcription of Haydn's The Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross by the Ebonit Saxophone Quartet, and below is his annotated score for the Haydn.


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