Why do I want to participate?
I have a boring day-job and need to infuse it with something unexpected. I am a painter, and am interested in how color and sound relate. Lastly, I have friends who have told me I must do this. In other words, peer pressure.
When I sit at my desk for 6 or 7 hours a day, my world becomes fixated on the light-emitting box in front of me. I swivel in my chair, click my nails on the keyboard, push the scroller wheel on the mouse up and down. There is the downbeat ding of the email notification sound, the staccato click of the mouse, and the ambient hum of the various electronics in front of and beside and underneath me. I am in a nest of electronic noise, yet I am in the center- a breathing, talking human being. I sigh and murmur to myself, and break the steady rhythm of sounds by my variability.
Many folks have created/written about empty hallways and stairwells in their studio buildings. I am happy to add my voice to the collective of solitary-hidden-away-creative-spaces. The stairwell in my old studio building is often neglected in favor of the elevator, yet it is a beautiful space. It’s heavy stone steps echo like a series of gongs under my noisy shoes. As I descend to the street, my presence follows me like a bright trail in the neutral air.
In all the rooms I inhabit in this city- the place I live, work, make art- they all have one thing in common. They are surrounded, either above or below or to the right of other rooms, other rooms that are also full of people and sounds. Sometimes I hear those sounds through the walls. At home, I might hear the sound of a TV laugh track filtered to an almost abstracted swell. In my studio, I might hear the fuzzy beating of the Pentecostal church band practicing.
These noises make my space feel different. I feel the room-ness of the room, the boxiness of the building we share. It tears down the illusion I have of being alone. The relationship of one sound to another changes my experience of them, just as colors placed together change my perception of them. This piece is about the collective mass of noises I hear through walls, translated into form.
oil on canvas, 12 x 12
What is the most constant, the most insistent, the most forgettable sound in my city?
I take the bus to work and hear it rocking the wall of windows.
I press the cell phone against my face, trying to block out the wind.
I hear it in bed at night, shaking the empty winter trees.
While trying to visualize the sounds of wind, I found myself much more drawn to shape than color. Wind is a blast, a curl, a long line. It has a pulse and a pattern that only God can see.