Students to Discuss Sound Designs for Art Exhibit
May 20, 2010
The Arts and Technology (ATEC) graduate students who designed the sound installation for the Coastlines: Images of Land and Sea exhibition at the Dallas Museum of Art will discuss the inspiration and processes behind their work on Friday, May 21.
Students Michael Austin, Jason Barnett, Luis Fernando Midence and Roxanne Minnish will speak from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. in the DMA’s Center for Creative Connections theater as part of the museum’s “All Night Late Night” series. Admission is free with a UT Dallas student ID.
The sound design project is the most ambitious in the history of UT Dallas’ collaboration with the DMA. The students’ work responds to the coastal landscape paintings and other artworks on display, with the audio creations conceived to support the immersive qualities—intellectual, psychological and sensorial—of the exhibition itself.
The project even extended overseas, partnering the four UT Dallas students with a group of undergraduate students at the Université du Sud Toulon Var in France.
“I traveled to France to teach workshops to the students in Toulon, helping them compose their own soundscapes; while I was there, the students and I recorded sounds of the ocean to use on this project,” Austin said. “My soundscape for the Diebenkorn piece (Ocean Park) was inspired by the different shades of blue used in the painting and the layering of the geometric shapes. I then made the conceptual leap to the different 'positions' in which water exists as the coastline: humidity in the air, waves on the shore, the surface of the water, the depths of the ocean.”
Nicole Stutzman, director of teaching programs and partnerships at the DMA, and Frank Dufour, assistant professor of sound design in the ATEC program at UT Dallas, supervised the project’s development. Work began in fall 2009 with pre-design work and testing of hyper-directional speakers in conjunction with traditional loudspeakers, the combination of which had never been used on such a scale before.
The spring 2010 semester was dedicated to creating all of the musical and sonic components to be assembled and projected in the galleries in the form of the sound installation. This creative process consisted of multiple back-and-forth exchanges of sound files, ideas, critiques, and suggestions from all the participants in this project – both in French and English.
“The success of this installation is a result of many hours of listening and fine-tuning in order to create a fluid and harmonious convergence of sound,” Barnett says. “The creators of the soundscapes for individual paintings are from very different backgrounds, and each has a unique interpretation and sensibility in relation to the artwork. Coastlines succeeds in merging these very different sound sources.”
Minnish said color and texture guided the choices in her sound design. “In The Harbor by Jean Metzinger, I found it interesting how he experimented with Cubist techniques, but his painting retained a recognizable scene with a system of mathematically calculated proportions, planes, and angles superimposed on the painting, like a grid,” Minnish said. “ The music that I wrote for Metzinger's painting uses the harp and flute voices to complement each other in melody, but also has two different timbres, much like the painting. In the soundscape, one voice takes over where the other leaves off, and in between the sound transition, you hear the sounds of the harbor.”
On view through August 22, Coastlines: Images of Land and Sea investigates, through 66 works of art in its collection (paintings, watercolors, drawings, prints, and photographs), how visual artists of the modern period (1850-present) have represented coastal landscapes.