German photographer Martin Klimas' latest exhibition, a series of images he calls "Sonic Sculptures," is so explosive and colorful, it just may change the way you look -- yes, look -- at music.
For the project, Klimas put vibrantly colored paint on a diaphragm over a speaker, turned up the volume on selected music and snapped photos of what the New York Times Magazine described as "a 3-D take on Jackson Pollack."
"I use an ordinary speaker with a funnel-shaped protective membrane on top of it," he told the Smithsonian. "I pour paint colors onto the rubber membrane, and then I withdraw from the setup."
The above photo shows Prince's "Sign 'O' The Times."
Klimas' project was inspired by the research of Hans Jenny, a German physician, scientist and father of cymatics, which is the study of wave phenomena. Jenny photographed his experiments of the effects sound vibrations had on various materials such as fluids, powders and liquid paste. Jenny placed these substances on a rubber drum head and, as it vibrated, he found different tones produced different patterns in the materials. Low tones made powders assemble in straight lines, while deeper tones made for more complex patterns.
The above photo reflects Phillip Glass' "Music With Changing Parts."
Klimas used a variety of music -- everyone from Prince to James Brown and Charlie Parker to Phillip Glass. He says he leaves the "creation of the picture to the sound itself" and, after cranking the volume, steps back. Once the paint starts jumping, a sound-trigger device that detects noise spikes automatically takes photos.
"I mostly selected works that were particularly dynamic, and percussive," Klimas said. Though he used songs from a variety of music styles and eras, many of the tracks chosen were by musicians who had ties to the visual art world, such as the Velvet Underground and John Cage.
Before they struck gold with "Get Lucky," Daft Punk got dance floors thumping with "Around the World" shown here.
Klimas spent six months completing the project in his Dusseldorf studio and took about 1,000 shots to get his final 212 images. He went through 18.5 gallons of paint, on average of 6 ounces per shot, and blew two speakers while cranking the tunes. He used a Hasselblad camera with a shutter speed of 1/7000th a second.
The above image is a photo of Ornette Coleman's "Free Jazz, A Collective Improvisation."
Blown speakers and exactitudes aside, Klimas said "the most annoying thing was cleaning up the set thoroughly after every single shot." Check out more of Klimas' work on his website (www.martin-klimas.de), or better yet, if you're in New York City, stop by the Foley Gallery on the Lower East Side. There you can find his new exhibition, "SONIC," which opened earlier this month.
The above photo illustrates Pink Floyd's "On the Run."
Some people love music so much that they crave it. Now, researchers think the opposite might also be true: in a study published in Current Biology today, an experiment shows that some people may not find any pleasure in music.
To pinpoint whether the condition, called musical anhedonia, existed, researchers analyzed the reactions of three different groups of people to both a music task and a monetary reward task. The people were grouped according to their pleasure ratings in response to music (high, average or low).
When the participants were asked to rate the degree of pleasure they were experiencing while listening to pleasant music, some reported no pleasurable response — and showed no automatic responses to pleasing music. Those people did respond positively to the monetary reward task, showing that the brain’s reward center wasn’t to blame for the inability to experience rewards of all kinds.
Instead, “These results point to the existence of speciﬁc musical anhedonia and suggest that there may be individual differences in access to the reward system,” the authors wrote.
“The idea that people can be sensitive to one type of reward and not to another suggests that there might be different ways to access the reward system and that, for each person, some ways might be more effective than others,” said study author Josep Marco-Pallarés of the University of Barcelona Marco-Pallarés.
It could also help researchers understand how sets of notes are translated into emotions, he said.
In a related study, researchers developed a questionnaire that breaks down the rewards of music into five factors, showing that people are rewarded by music to different degrees and in different capacities.