Neil Young's New Venture Offers More Visceral Sound
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."
Audiophiles have long bemoaned the inferior sound quality of digital files, as compared to the more rich sound of analog recordings. In fact, legendary musician Neil Young compares the experience of listening to MP3s to listening to music underwater with a big glass bowl over your head.
However, with the launch of his new music service and player, PonoMusic, Young seeks to rescue sound from its watery grave by offering digital music files with superior sound quality.
Most compressed MP3 files we listen to today have a kilobit per second rate between 192 and 256, which conceals much of the dynamic detail of the original recording. PonoMusic, on the other hand, uses Free Lossless Audio Codec (FLAC) as its standard audio format, producing sound files at 1,411 kbps, on up to uber high-quality recordings at 9,216 kbps. According to PonoMusic, this creates between six and 30 times more information for song reconstruction.
The PonoPlayer, a portable, triangular device links with the PonoMusic App — available for Mac and Windows — which connects to an online store where music can be bought and downloaded, similar to iTunes. The device includes two output jacks, one for headphones and one designed for home audio systems or car stereos.
“Pono,” which is Hawaiian for righteous, “is more than just a high-resolution music store and player; it is a grassroots movement to keep the heart of music beating,” explains the venture’s Kickstarter page. “PonoMusic aims to preserve the feeling, spirit, and emotion that the artists put in their original studio recordings.”
PonoMusic has already met it’s goal of $800,000, tallying well over $1.4 million and counting with 34 days still left to go. No doubt, the influential testimonials of some of the biggest names in the music industry has done well to raise PonoMusic’s stake. Bruce Springsteen, Arcade Fire, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Patti Smith and more can all be seen singing Pono’s praises in the Kickstarter video.