Fleshtones
2006 - 2008 (Installation version)

Fleshtones conflates two desires: firstly to see that which is hidden, and secondly for there to be a harmonic correspondence between music and colour. The second urge is found in the Gesamtkunstwerk synaesthetic strand of visual music, and to articulate this relationship over the years a variety of colour organs have been designed, ranging from Castel’s 1734 Ocular Harpsichord through to Thomas Wilfred's Clavilux in the1920s. Appealing as the notion of inner harmony between colour and pitch is, as Maclolm Le Grice (2001, pp 270) points out, given classical music’s reliance on the basic laws of physics to define notes and harmony, these same principles cannot be applied to any logical system of reciprocal colour organisation. Nonetheless, the wish for there to be a correlation is clearly very strong, and Fleshtones willingly plays on this by establishing a dialogue between on-screen colour and notation, which is then frustrated by what remains unseen rather than exhibited. The piece was created using a Max patch that heavily pixelates the video footage fed into it. The changing hues of the resultant large colour blocks are turned into MIDI notes (by the same patch) and sent to a piano synthesizer to create the soundtrack. As with Engine Trouble, the piece requires change in the image to produce sound, the rhythm, tempo and melody of the piano notes being entirely the result of the on-screen movement.

Fleshtones might seem initially to be a simple digital colour organ, and indeed without the contextual information this is how it would be seen, but this reading is subverted once one knows that the blocks originated as pornographic footage. The unseen element provides an arbitrary counterpoint to the seeming literal equation of colour and melody. However strong our antipathy to pornography, there is a desire to see what is hidden, for there to be some revelation/resolution of the image. That this is denied acts as an asynchronous irritant in the otherwise polite combination of coloured squares and piano notes.

Screened at: Cog Collective, London, UK (2006), Punto Y Raya festival - Oficial competition Section, Italy (2007) Telenoika, Barcelona, Sapin (2007), Hair of thd Dog Exhibition: CCA, Santa Fe (Installation version - 2008), USA, Iota Salon, The iotaCenter, Los Angeles, USA (2009), Memorial Gallery, Hastings, UK (2009), London Animation Club, London UK (2013), Sound & Image Colloquium, University of Greenwich, Greenwich, UK (2015).

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