Image: Andras Mengyan - Polyphonic visual space
LIGHT, SOUND AND SPACE
Image: Andras Mengyan - Katalogus 21 - Kinetic light sculpture
Light, sound and speakers
by Caroline Lambard
Since the possibility of the joint talk was suggested, there had been a frisson of excitement. Both Andras and Ian share a passion for developing ideas across science, art and technology - and for creative dialogue.
We were in a great new venue, LSE George IV, for this event and were grateful to both speakers for making the journey, Andras from Budapest and Ian from Madrid.
The connective point was the creative use and transformation of energies into tools and materials in both Andras' and Ian's work. For Ian, the interactions between light and sound provide sophisticated measuring tools. For Andras, projected light and interactive sound are the ephemeral materials used to explore the perceived layers of physical environments. Their talks have been recorded and are available via the links above.
The free dialogue between audience and speakers which followed the talks, deftly chaired by Dr Sheena Calvert, wasn't recorded. However, I've summarised some of the areas covered and hopefully this gives a sense of the evening's directions and ideas.
Sheena launched the dialogue by asking what connections we saw between the practices. The question fed itself into the conversations that followed and to a particularly interesting debate on the science community’s emphasis on the empirical nature of research. This led to a counter-argument that much of the process of art is also empirical - with Andras' own work being a good example, developing through study of form into physical explorations of perception.
Andras was asked about his concept of polyphonic visual spaces, and his aim to use these spaces to widen our awareness of the multi-sensory elements present in any given environment. He was asked how he felt this could be achieved, since we are only capable of focusing on a limited cone of information, visually, aurally, etc at any moment in time. His response was that rather than widening the cone of perception he was interested in developing deeper understanding within the cone, and in this way develop increased sensory perception.
In this context Andras' concept of a visual lab within a scientific institution was also discussed. He proposed that such a lab would enable empirical study of visual art and inform the work of both artists and scientists. This led to a debate on whether the outcome would change his art and if, indeed, it would indeed be a work of art.
There was then an interesting debate about the quality of decision-making that results from intention.
The selective use of colour in the installations let to a discussion about its psychological significance. There was a comment that here was a practical - and empirical - example of a working relationship between art and science in the creative application of light colour atmospheres in mental wards, where it is believed to speed patients recovery.
Ian provided a dramatic demonstration of a real-time creative interaction between science and art. In demonstrating how an ultrasonic directional speaker is able to send highly pin-pointed beams of music into specific corners of the room, he introduced a scintilating new insight into sound projection and sound perception, leaving Andras and others in the room excitedly discussing its creative potential.
Finally, Sheena asked why people were there. The key word which linked many of the responses was curiosity, and within that the desire to learn from others. For Ian it was an opportunity to move into a different frame of thought and perception. He said that in his everyday practice he is necessarily surrounded by other like-minded scientists. The salon allowed him to share ideas and thought processes with people from other fields, offering different perspectives on his own his subject and on wider issues that developed. I think we all agreed.
Commentary by Caroline Lambard