Surprise! I decided to draw a dubstep track! hehe.
I responded to a media request from the UK Synesthesia Association, for a student who is putting together an ipad app about synesthetic experiences with electronic music. She sent me a number of very interesting tracks, and I chose to illustrate my synesthetic experience with Excision & Datsik's Deviance.
My illustration corresponds approximately to 0:26 - 0:50.
I found those heavy sounds very thick and interesting. They resonate right at the back of my jaw, at the spot where my wisdom teeth once were. I get a similar reaction from the frequencies in songs like Megadeth's Holy Wars, Down's Bury me in Smoke, Pantera's Cowboys from Hell.
On first listens, these sounds almost looked like gruyère cheese - very dense and full of air bubbles. Then I listened more closely, and could see how the sound was actually very "hairy" and layered, nuanced. The rhythmns make it very flashy and cut-apart - kind of like watching a badly animated clip.
The sound is very blue / grey (I've actually found that much electronic music has a similar color palette for me, interestingly).
So I took textured paper, layered on color pencils, scratched away the color with an opened-up paperclip, layered on color again. Then I cut the paper into strips, rubbed the edges with sandpaper and glued them onto a piece of heavy paperboard, and sandpapered everything some more.
I really enjoyed this challenge, because I don't usually listen to music like this. All I can say is, it's all about the sound!
Over the past few weeks, I've drawing the first chorus sequence in the Art of Dying. This is one of the central sequence within the song, it's quite heavily textured and absolutely mind-blowing.
Here's my original outline of the sequence:
The next step was filling in the forground and background, giving texture to the outline.
And then I began shading, using Tria markers in 12 shades of gray, to bring out the depth.
I realized that the lettering has to been done separately and then added in with Photoshop, because the letters are quite fine and really interfer with drawing the hairline textures in the loops - the letters make it difficult to draw the textures in one continuous movement.
You can hear this sequence - which I've labelled sequence #7 - from 4:16 - 4:45 in the video below.
The Gojira project is moving right along - I feel like the past few weeks have been a bit more productive! In any case, it sure is difficult to balance a huge personal project like this one with my full-time day job doing graphic design.
I've been working a lot lately on the 1st verse of The Art of Dying. I've been refering to this section as "sequence 4," which you can hear from 2:17 in the video at the end of this post.
It's been a challenge, especially developing the background loops.
For this sequence, I wanted the foreground loops to be a little less present, and make the background loops a more important part of the composition - reflecting the balance between vocals and accompaniment.
The condensed, sans serif is to emphasize the linearity of the vocals, not to directly spell out the vocal line. I used some overlapping in the composition along with some extended ascenders and descenders to suggest the vocal texture and rhythmn.
Process has been an extremely important part of executing the Gojira / Art of Dying project. Since the project is so huge, I've tried to be a methodological as possible - asking myself, what is the best way to get the right type of results.
After working out the general structure and contour for the entire piece, I worked on finding the best techniques and materials to render the texture. This involved testing dozens of different pens, pencils, inks, markers and paper.
These trial-and-error sessions helped me determine the right materials: tria markers in 12 shades of gray, and Copic multiliner pens in about 10 different thicknesses, on Inuit Ultra paper in blanc glacier.
I initially began the project by simply drawing in the Moleskine japanese-fold album. But this ended up being a problem: the tria markers and copic liners bleed through, making it impossible to work directly on both sides of the pages.
I then began working on separate sheets, which will be scanned and printed out in the same format as the japanese fold album.
This has required a lot of tracing, and I had to adapt my working surfaces accordingly. I first was working on an Ikea table with a small lightboard... and the project quickly outgrew the table. I recently got a new table with a full glass top - which has become a huge lightboard, basically. It's a lot less cramped and I can get much smoother curves.
I'm wondering how many meters long the project will end up being... and sometimes I wonder what I've got myself into! :)
I just got back after a nice little vacation in the US and the How Design conference in Chicago. It was a great experience, and I really enjoyed the sessions with Armin Vit, Cami Travis-Groves and Jessica Hische. And I especially appreciated talking with Cami at the portfolio review, her comments were really encouraging and motivating. Thanks a ton, Cami!
I'll be off gallivanting Italy for a couple days (the Big four in Milan -- Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer & Anthrax, yay!) and then it's back to work next week!
I really love making lomo videos of concert experiences. I often go right in the middle of the pit with my camera wrapped around my wrist, not focused on anything in particular, just capturing the energy of the music kinesthetically (like this clip from Down at Gods of Metal 2009).
So when I went to see Kyuss, cult stoner band from the early 90's, in Milan on March 23, 2011 with my American friend E., I went prepared.
We were right up against the barrier at the front of the stage. My camera was just dangling off my wrist and I kept forgetting to turn it off, and ended up recording by mistake the light reflections on the barrier!
This concert experience was quite exceptional for me, synesthetically, because the bass was just so strong. The photisms I saw while hearing and feeling the music were quite incredible: these tendrils wrapping themselves around my legs, and the vibrations looked like black splotches with lots of tiny, horizontal shimmering white lines.
I liked these video sequences because they really reminded me of the intensity of the sound and its physical effet. (I over-exposed the segments to accentuate the light effects.)
These guys put on a great show to a sold-out house, by the way!
I've been working on the first color tests for the Gojira project, working with Tria markers in about a dozen shades of cool gray. They are quite easy to blend, and it's fun creating shading in the shapes and giving them texture. It feels like the drawing is starting to come to life.
The main difficulty I'm having now is finding the right way to fill in the background. I'm currently working on a series of different tests to find the right technique for this.
When I'm drawing the different sequences in the the Gojira / The Art of Dying project, I use a lot of loops. I see the sound construction of the song as very circular.
During the drawing process, these loops go through many steps. The loop I've drawn here is a very small fill from the last sequence of the Art of Dying (minute 6:05).
Step 1: a basic, short-hand version of the loop.
Step 2: fleshing out the basic shapes of the loop and the thick thin contrast.
Step 3: correcting the loop dynamics for rhythmn and movement.
And here is the finished loop-shape placed within the composition.
Once I've finished drawing all the loops, I'll begin the coloring process. The entire composition will be against a black background, and the loops filled in with textured linework in blacks and greys, as in this example:
Yesterday I posted several photos of the protoype paper sculpture structure for the Gojira-Art of Dying project. I put together this video to better explain how the paper sculpture works. It's a bit long (because the song is so long!). As the song plays, each corresponding loop of the paper sculpture is highlighted.
First of all, I divided the song up into sequences according to how I visualize it. Each of these sequences works like a loop that circles around and around on itself, until you move onto the next loop.
Now these sequences don't necessarily correspond to a proper musicological analysis of the song or even to the sections indicated in the sheet music. But that wasn't my intention either: I wanted to break the song down into the different sequences that I see synesthetically.
One of the difficulties was working within the constraint of the 50-page moleskine format. This meant dividing up the sequences in a way that made sense, and also that worked out mathematically.
The other constraint was developing a looping structure that functioned and that respected the layout of the different sequences.
One of the really important points for me was to give enough importance to the chorus. These sequences are so powerful, and are really the central pivot within the song.
I also decided to fill the entire reverse side of the japanese-fold album with one short sequence (sequence 11) that repeats itself over and over, in order to really emphasize the hypnotic quality of this passage.
So once you've gone all the way to the end of the 50-page accordion fold, turned it over and came all the way back, you end up back at the beginning again. The entire project consists of loops, from its initial form, to the breakdown in sequences, to the drawing of each sequence - in which the sound itself is in loops... it all breaks down to the cycle of life and death.