Music and fractal through Deaf lens

In my BFA year, my project, "Fractals in Music" focused on exploring what music means, based on the fractal idea beyond phonocentric thinking.

As I knew that language is amodal, which means that language is independent from speech. It's brain-based language, regardless of the modality (signing or speech). Is music amodal? I sensed that music can be appreciated or understood in either visual, vibrational, or sound forms.

In attempt to deconstruct sound-bound music, first I see music as a mathematical, that is fractal, form. And, it's a vibrational form in a broader term rather than sound-specific. Music can be appreciated through three main sensory modalities: sight, hearing, and touch.

In synaesthesia, senses are interchangeable. For example, one day my friend, who taught me a weekly lesson in playing bass guitar, once asked me whether I could feel the difference between cube and sine sounds. To find out, I sat on a large woofer connected to the computer while he generated those two pieces of vibration from the computer.

To my amazement, my body could clearly identify a shape of the wave for sine and a shape of the three-sided square for cube, as well as I could see them in visual imagery through touch. Then, my friend tested me by playing one of the sounds and asked me which cube or sine was it. I correctly replied them.

In our visual-vibrational world, I've noticed some musical visuals that I was mesmerized by, such as watching long and deep telephone lines through the train window in my childhood; watching the way my friend repeatedly pulled twice and then held his paddle below the rippling lake water while we sat in the canoe, and watching the way Venezuelan pigeons, sometimes single and sometimes synchronized in group, flew off the water surface upward, twisted around, zoomed downward and crashed through the water surface, creating splashes. Those hypnotizing scenes were visually mesmerizing but I also sensed sounds through eye.

In this project, my aim was to discover and understand a fractal-based music as a "common denominator" for aesthetics in all art forms. To disconnect music from sound through deconstruction, I created a few experimental video arts on the concept of visual/vibrational music, such as "Sweet Nightmare" (2004) and "Music Score" (2006).

The visual poem music score reflects a childhood memory and experience of "music to the eye" on a number of train rides between my residential schools and family home in my childhood years. I was mesmerized by the black thick telephone lines dancing in motion through the train window and by the rhythmical sideway movement of the train.

My first-hand experience also strongly relates to the poem "Eye Music" in ASL by Ella Mae Lentz and her experience. The first time I watched her poem, I knew exactly what it was as a participant of direct experience, not an observer or listener to the poem or story.

Not only with the desire of expressing my experience, but also the video is a desire to experiment on the concept of concrete poetry in sign language in the written form.

A working definition of music by Jolanta Lapiak is as follows:

"a mathematical or fractal essence, pulsating energy, consisting of rhythms, melodies, tones... embodied in architecture, images, sculpture, nature... and music instruments that reproduce visual music, vibration, and/or sound." -- July 11, 2004 (Journal)

To disconnect music from sound through deconstruction, I created a few experimental videos on the concept of visual/vibrational music.

Posted by Jolanta Lapiak, 2006. Updated 2008.

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