Sound sketchbook

I got going on my theme book by making a cover. I decided the vinyl single format was a nice size to work with, and made a mock up of a Parlophone record. It was a light way to get inspired and worked quite well!

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I then started my research by looking at the work of Anne Kyyro Quinn, as suggested to me by my tutor. She is a textile artist and interior designer who specialises in felt soundproofing installations. I made a couple of sketches based on her work, and looked at the properties of soundproofing more generally. I really admired the aesthetic of her work, and like the uniformity of the pieces in colour, texture and form. I can see that pleasing design is generally pared back and not too fussy, and I have a tendency to want to do too much in a single piece.

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At this point, I was quite fixed on the idea of using smocking or something akin to smocking in manipulating felt for my final piece. I wanted to explore the idea of having pattern visible within or through the main structure, hence the drawing on the right which was laminated with holes within the regular pattern.  The main principles that I want to take forward from this research is the thickness and porous nature of the base fabric, and the idea of optimal geometry in the three dimensional surface design.

I went on to do some sketches of what I would immediately visualise when I thought about sound. Waveforms was an obvious starting point, and one problem I saw in representing sound in a sketch is the lack of physical movement. I thought about the large scale drawings we had seen recently at the Jenny Saville exhibition in Oxford, and thought I could use the idea of drawing waveforms on top of each other to represent time lapse and movement.

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Having drawn the line drawings, I realised I had essentially drawn a Joy Division album cover, albeit subconsciously!  The traced sketch incorporated the idea of a musical notation and the end of staves on music paper, and also looked a bit like piano keys.

My next tack was to look at other textile artists work, and see if any pieces made me think of sound. I had recently bought Drusilla Cole’s ‘Textiles Now’, and felt inspired by a number of pieces. I was particularly drawn to ikat woven pieces by Ptolemy Mann, some of which have a pulsing, vibrating quality, and also have parallels with graphics equalizer displays. Jessica Preston is interesting for the purposes of this project, as she uses intricately and elaborately folded felt to create origami-style three dimensional forms. I was drawn to these not only due to the parallels with my reading on soundproofing, but also because I felt the shapes as shown in my sketch have a vibrating quality, and some of her pieces look rather like speakers to me.

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From here, I had another go at sketching sound and came up with this.

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At this stage I think that I fell into the trap of being too focussed on an end product when approaching the sketchbook. On the positive side, I am finding this process of review useful and quite liberating. I feel less anxious about changing direction and discovering new ideas for development.

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Getting Back

Followers of my learning log may have noticed a rather large hiatus since my last post. This is partly as I have been struggling somewhat with my themed sketchbook and development, and I have been working in a more direct dialogue with the sketchbook making notes as I go, rather than reflecting here. I have also had the misfortune of an unexpected stay in hospital. A very frightening experience involving being unable to move from flat on my back for hours on end. I am happy to say that after almost a fortnight in hospital I have been discharged home, but tiredness and motivation problems have resulted in a slow return to the project in hand.

I had started a theme book on ‘Tea’, but my tutor was right that I had settled on an idea that I felt was within my grasp rather than challenging myself. In my third assignment I had explored the idea of creating a soundscape in textile manipulation, but hadn’t quite found a resolution. She felt that this was a much more exciting proposition, and I tended to agree. The problem with chosing this topic is that I have had to put a lot of work into finding sketch ideas for a non-visual, somewhat abstract topic. My approach has been quite methodical and formal, and I feel a little stilted and forced. In the next posts I will document what I have done thus far, and hope that this process will in itself help me find a distance from it and re-engage in a new direction.