Adagio

Ink on paper, 22 inches by 30 inches

KAREN GUSTAFSON

Minneapolis, MN
karengustoafsonstudios.com

Musical recordings are the inspiration for, and study of, these ink drawings. Intrigued with a recording’s ability to absorb me with its emotional strength and contemplating understanding information through light and sound waves, I looked within a song to dissect its elements through an audio visualizing program, Sonic Visualiser, developed at the Centre for Digital Music at Queen Mary, University of London.

I was curious to translate what was unseen to seen by using the program. To explore how the character of the audio waves and spectrograms varied in the songs and their differences in tonal contrast. From these investigations, select patterns and forms became the basis and compositional elements for the drawing. Obsessive layering of individual marks create the space/atmosphere they exist in.

My layering process grew out of previous work and reading reflecting on scientific observations of the natural world, which have revealed that a particle structure — and now possibly strings (string theory) — compose all matter, even space and time. The influence of particles and how they accumulate provided me with the process of building my surfaces one mark and one layer at a time. This has carried forward in the drawings, symbolically weaving or stitching individual vibrating strings, to create their dimensional structure.

The drawings are developed with multiple layers of sepia ink on 300 lb. cold press watercolor paper. This non-sealed heavy weight paper absorbs the ink and can withstand the intense layering process to produce a vast range of tones. The mark making begins in the negative, to bring the positive into view. Traditional cross-hatching provides these under layers and transform to more gestural marks as each layer builds upon the former. Developing the many levels of tonal depth found within the song’s envisioned structure and atmosphere, by slowly building layers, is fundamental.

A desire to see how different a recording’s elements and the realized spaces they inspire are, from one song to another, drives this investigation.