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# Creating Affective Visual Music

Electronic Visualisation and the Arts (EVA)

Electronic Visualisation and the Arts

9 - 13 July 2018

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### Abstract

This paper delineates the on-going development of a methodology for creating affective visual music. Visual music is a creative practice that does not split the eye and ear; it problematizes this long-standing duality and seeks to make a singularity. Visual music encompasses many types of output: abstract paintings, time-based performance art such as colour organs, abstract film, projected light shows, art installations of film and expanded cinema (digital media). The impulse to find correspondences between music and visuals and use these to create a new genre has a long history. This practice-based research is historicised and highlights both the key seminal influences underpinning the work and the innovations embodied within it. This paper will discuss experimental, visual music pieces from my own practice (Watkins 2016, 2017, 2018) that employ Ron Kuivila’s strategy ‘over’ technology and seminal works from the visual music canon. Visual music is often approached from the viewpoint of a musical composer, this practice-based research is visually led; visual structures, rather than musical structures, are explored. Visual music can be perceived as overly repetitive, cold and alienating if it has a purely mechanical alignment of music to image, or if it seems disengaged from both human emotions and natural imagery. A key objective is to create work that is non-figurative, non-narrative, pre-language, extra-language, and yet suffused with human presence, to create visual music that is affective.

### Most cited references15

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A new class of visuomotor neuron has been recently discovered in the monkey's premotor cortex: mirror neurons. These neurons respond both when a particular action is performed by the recorded monkey and when the same action, performed by another individual, is observed. Mirror neurons appear to form a cortical system matching observation and execution of goal-related motor actions. Experimental evidence suggests that a similar matching system also exists in humans. What might be the functional role of this matching system? One possible function is to enable an organism to detect certain mental states of observed conspecifics. This function might be part of, or a precursor to, a more general mind-reading ability. Two different accounts of mind-reading have been suggested. According to theory theory', mental states are represented as inferred posits of a naive theory. According to simulation theory', other people's mental states are represented by adopting their perspective: by tracking or matching their states with resonant states of one's own. The activity of mirror neurons, and the fact that observers undergo motor facilitation in the same muscular groups as those utilized by target agents, are findings that accord well with simulation theory but would not be predicted by theory theory.
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### Communication of emotions in vocal expression and music performance: different channels, same code?

(2003)
Many authors have speculated about a close relationship between vocal expression of emotions and musical expression of emotions. but evidence bearing on this relationship has unfortunately been lacking. This review of 104 studies of vocal expression and 41 studies of music performance reveals similarities between the 2 channels concerning (a) the accuracy with which discrete emotions were communicated to listeners and (b) the emotion-specific patterns of acoustic cues used to communicate each emotion. The patterns are generally consistent with K. R. Scherer's (1986) theoretical predictions. The results can explain why music is perceived as expressive of emotion, and they are consistent with an evolutionary perspective on vocal expression of emotions. Discussion focuses on theoretical accounts and directions for future research.
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The implications of the discovery of mirroring mechanisms and embodied simulation for empathetic responses to images in general, and to works of visual art in particular, have not yet been assessed. Here, we address this issue and we challenge the primacy of cognition in responses to art. We propose that a crucial element of esthetic response consists of the activation of embodied mechanisms encompassing the simulation of actions, emotions and corporeal sensation, and that these mechanisms are universal. This basic level of reaction to images is essential to understanding the effectiveness both of everyday images and of works of art. Historical, cultural and other contextual factors do not preclude the importance of considering the neural processes that arise in the empathetic understanding of visual artworks.
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### Author and article information

###### Conference
July 2018
July 2018
: 374-381
###### Affiliations
University of Greenwich

Stockwell Street, Park Row

London SE10 9LS, UK
###### Article
10.14236/ewic/EVA2018.70

Electronic Visualisation and the Arts
EVA
London, UK
9 - 13 July 2018
Electronic Workshops in Computing (eWiC)
Electronic Visualisation and the Arts
###### Product
Product Information: 1477-9358BCS Learning & Development
Self URI (journal page): https://ewic.bcs.org/
###### Categories
Electronic Workshops in Computing