So, back to the canvas, or at least, the place from which that “Metallic Canvas” came – the old burnt out freezer that provided me with so much colour and texture for my camera and sound for my recorder. I said that I would try and explain my interest in metal and my weird liking for the sounds it can make and these are the clues.
Over this last week I have shown something of the ways in which I have used metal in my work but perhaps I have not explained why I use and like it.
Synesthesia – This is not how I would describe my visual, aural or linguistic experience of the world. However, from the moment I started tapestry weaving at college many years ago, I was excited by the touch and texture of the materials I handled.
It took many years of weaving to reach a level of expertise with which I was happy and confident. A part of this development was my deepening understanding of how my body, my fingers, interacted with the structure of warp and weft. For many years I used strong bold colours and blends in my tapestries and this too helped me to gain a clearer understanding of how colour interacts in different ways in different circumstances. Tapestry weaving is unique in its absorption and reflection of light – hence its generosity with colour.
These things are key to my approach to photography, sound recording, StillWalks and my “Interventions”. I have carried out workshops in the past where I have asked people to close their eyes and listen to the sound of an instrument or an everyday kitchen object and think about what colour the sound might be or what it would feel like if they could touch the sound as it travels through the air around them. Music, too, is often described in terms of colour, texture and form. This is not synesthesia, I do not see numbers as colours or whatever the crossover of senses might be for an individual experiencing synesthesia.
I find the relationship of one sense to another exciting and I am thinking more and more these days in terms of how everything in this world is interconnected in one way or another. The texture and colour of an old burnt out freezer relates precisely to what has happened (or been done) to it. The sounds it makes in this state are unique to its condition and the circumstances of the space that it occupies.
Sounds are very important to me and whilst it may just be a matter of personal taste in the end, the fact that I like those (some would say harsh) sounds that metal can make, is relevant to StillWalks. I specifically do not like the soft, ethereal music that is so often used on meditation disks and it is this fact that led me to explore field recording and its use in StillWalks. The sounds in StillWalks are unique to the time and place of the walk, and the photography, and therefore, what you hear in each walk is entirely the result of the conditions at the time.
I find it fascinating how little these conditions need to change in order to create a different sound – it may be wind strength and direction or simply atmospheric pressure, time of day or year or how many people, birds and other creatures are around . . . and those thing too, only exist as they do because of the conditions and circumstances at any given time and place.
Everything is interconnected and it is this that I try to impart to project participants when out in the field. How we interact with our surroundings has an influence on everything that is a part of those surroundings and as a species that is in the privileged position of being able to make conscious choices about what we do and how we act in relation to everything (and everyone) around us, we have a responsibility to consider the effect we have on all those things to which we are connected directly or indirectly.
Oh dear, now I’m getting preachy – sorry about that folks 🙂 Comments welcome!
Suffice it to say that it is the colours and textures both visually and aurally that attracts me to metal. This says nothing of the symbolism that it can have in different forms and conditions, but that is something that perhaps should be left to the audience to interpret.