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Title: Dirty light: The application of musical principles to the organisation of light as an extension of musical expression into the non-figurative visual realm
Authors: Ciciliani-Stiglmayer, Marko
Advisors: Gilmore, B
Birringer, J
Keywords: Composition;Light art;Multimedia;Sonic noise
Issue Date: 2010
Publisher: Brunel University School of Arts PhD Theses
Abstract: This thesis describes a number of compositions in which the objective was to investigate whether, and how far, the organisation of light can function as an extension of musical expression in the non-figurative visual realm. I explore the extent to which sound and light are compatible as media, in the sense of both being able to communicate a common set of ideas. The thesis begins by placing the discussion in a historical context, with an overview of the history of analogies between sound and light from Antiquity to the 19th century, as well as the history of Light Art. The second part of the thesis describes synaesthesia as a historically developed aesthetic concept and as a field of research that reveals interesting facts about the neuronal processing of stimulations from the senses. The third part forms the core of the research. It leads from a general historic discussion to more specific problems that emerged in my own work with sound and light. Light is a medium strongly characterised by purity; at first, light therefore seemed an inappropriate medium in which to offer plausible translations of different degrees of sonic noise. However, because of the importance that the inclusion of noise has taken in music since the 20th century, this would have meant a severe handicap in looking for a homological relationship between sound and light in artistic contexts. From a discussion of the broad implications the idea of dirt has in social and cultural contexts, the focus is eventually reduced to the aesthetic problem at hand. By means of a classification of three different sorts of noise, a more differentiated understanding becomes possible of the various functions that noise can have. Corresponding forms of ‘dirty light’ eventually become conceivable and artistically applicable. In the fourth part, six compositions and one audiovisual installation are discussed. Each of these works explores different relationships between the visual and sonic component. When appropriate, the various concepts of ‘dirty light’ that have been derived in the third part are reflected in the form of concrete examples. After discussing each work individually, certain practical problems are addressed that surfaced repeatedly under different performance circumstances. In the fifth part I pose the question of how far events that are conceived to be musical have to be based on sonic events. Common definitions of music that describe sonic events as its exclusive concern are questioned and a number of examples of music are discussed where the sonic outcome is hardly audible or even completely silent. I propose a notion that conceives music as a larger field of activity in which visual manifestations form an integral part. The seven audiovisual works form the practical component of this dissertation. As a result of this research a more differentiated understanding of the nature of the coupling of sound and light has emerged, alongside a comprehension of the at times strongly differing views on the general nature of cross-disciplinary works.
Description: This thesis was submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy and awarded by Brunel University, 03/11/2010.
Appears in Collections:Music
Dept of Arts and Humanities Theses

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