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Leonie DuBarry-Gurr

My practice explores realisations of identity and existence using systems and processes, synthesising both experience and concept. Conducting aesthetic experiments with a focus on the relationship between visuals and sound, I am interested in how multi-media can be employed, manipulated and transformed to illustrate or produce emotion and sentiment.

For this project I am developing a methodology for composing aleatoric (chance-based) music with accompanying projected video to be shown on experimental 'screens', playing with colour, light and movement in installation. The new work made for this exhibition is part of a series I started in 2019 - taking inspiration from the words of the Sufi philosopher Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī ~ The beauty you see in me is a reflection of you.

More About Me

Artwork - Study of My Grandfather's Landscape

Everything you do is music...
John Cage

My grandfather died before I was born, however, he has always been in my life. His watercolour paintings were the backdrop to my childhood, silently upholding the family home. Brushstrokes and colour washes made by his hand warmed the walls.
I have an innate love for this man I never met.

When I was commissioned to take part in this exhibition I was drawn to the idea of creating something that would bring about a much-needed peace. Work that would reflect the tranquillity I feel when my eyes rest for a few serendipitous moments upon one of my grandfather's paintings.

I have no idea what kind of music my grandfather liked. It remains a hole in our relationship. I decided to embark on a project to make some sort of musical composition from one of his landscape paintings, along with a visual, graphical score.

I have a few of my grandfather's paintings scattered in my house, none hanging, instead, leaning haphazardly on shelves and propped up on books. They still bring me calm.

I chose this landscape to work with - it is not extraordinary, it has no mark of the date made or subject location, nor even my grandfather's signature. It sits quietly in my living room.

Fig. 1 My grandfather's landscape

I played with ideas of how to extract data from the painting. I went as far as researching EEG machines that would translate my meditative brainwaves into code. The process of experimenting with ways to get 'information' from the painting was turning into a complete deconstruction of my grandfather's work, however, the taking apart was bringing us closer together, as I poured over his brush technique (which to me, contains such a depth of emotion), tracing the lines he had made.

After weeks of trying to come up with a novel way of obtaining data from my source but finding myself crippled by lack of technological resources (and knowhow), I came to the conclusion to keep things simple. This was to be a piece to bring about peace, after all.

And so, in a moment of exasperation, I clicked and turned the landscape into a colour palette mosaic. The palette instantly brought about serenity.

Fig. 2 Colour palette mosaic

Using this mosaic as my source I was able to extract data relating to the RGB values of each colour in the palette.

I devised a system and a set of rules as to how the RGB number sets would relay to musical notation - thus bringing about an aleatoric composition. The same method would be used to create a graphical score.

Fig. 3 Method and system notes

I also used this system to commission a piece of software that would allow the colour palette to create music in other ways - projecting the colours onto an experimental screen, with the concurrent light refractions produced becoming a new source material for the software to play a chance musical composition.

Fig. 4 Study of my grandfather's landscape (audiovisual performance for projector and dichroic screen)

Source Video

The source video was a simple animation of the colour tiles in the mosaic palette made from my grandfather's landscape. The palette mosaic is 'read' left to right, one square at a time.

Fig. 5 Source video stills

Projection Screen

Experimental screens made from dichroic and mirrored materials

Software (MAX/MSP by Johnny McJohnston)

The audio content was created within the framework of the audiovisual programming tool Max/MSP and uses a visual input to control and create the audio data. A camera is placed in front of a moving image or visual field and decodes each individual pixel of the camera's resolution into it's red, green and blue colour values. The program can focus on the visual field as a whole, on a set of pixels or even an individual pixel for sharper clarity of audiovisual coherence. As the data streams through the program individual sub-programs analyse each pixels colour value as a 3 digit list which is fed into a "player" which then allocates a value to a particular note in a predetermined scale.

The colour values, once decoded and incorporated into the program are then used to alter other audio parameters, such as pitch and tone, effects could be added with further development who's parameters could also be altered in real-time by movement and colour in the visual field or a live video feed.

Fig. 6 Photographs of installation (More in our Flickr Gallery)

This work remains in progress. I will update this exhibition with a recording of the aleatoric composition and graphical score.

Leonie DuBarry-Gurr

With thanks to Johnny McJohnston