What is your object?
Part 1: As you embark upon your post-graduate adventures, what do you wish to keep with you from your AADS and BC experience? Why?
In my original proposal, I described my own struggle with identity formation within a racialized, classed, and gendered society that imposes its own definitions upon the individual. Through these past four years at BC, I’ve come to embrace the confusion and contradictions that bloom when we acknowledge but refuse to internalize these stereotypes and socioeconomic conditions. Indeed, we have opportunities to rewrite popular narratives and to critically examine our “place” in the world, which is a mindset I want to bring with me into my next stage of life. I believe that my AADS experience has particularly helped me to solidify this view, which is why I want to incorporate the sentiments of subversion and revolution into my project.
Part 2: What form will your project take? And why? How does the form of your project resonate with the object you mean to keep with you? Be specific. You should tell me not only about the medium (e.g. film, performance, visual art, paper, etc.) and the genre (e.g. If you choose to do a visual art piece, are you thinking about a sculpture, a photo essay, a quilt, a mixed media installation, etc.); you should also describe, to the extent that they are relevant, any details about how you envision the length, size, scope; location, potential audience, texture, specific materials, specific design elements, and/or any other relevant detail to the content and form of your specific project.
Over the past few weeks, I began to compile and mix some songs and audio clips for the first third of my project, which was intended to include protest music forms from the 19th century. From there, I hoped to add in various undercurrents of subversion within modern Black artists’ musical forms, using tone painting to highlight tensions and harmonies in the rejection of hegemonic narratives. However, I think my plan was a bit ambitious in terms of how much time it would entail, and I decided on an alternative that would better encompass the ideas I wanted to examine. In our globalized society, the influences of musicians and musical forms from Africa and the African Diaspora can’t be distilled into just a few minutes of song. Instead, I’m creating a visual art piece based off a playlist that celebrates these stylistic and thematic innovations on world music in general, rejecting the very categorization that attempts to relegate “Black” music to only a few categories. The visual aspect is a digital abstract piece that juxtaposes waveforms from each song in an intentional way that reflects the playlist’s overarching themes of self-definition and belonging. The playlist contains 33 songs and is published on Spotify, which is a medium that I can easily access wherever I find myself in the world, and the visual component is a printed and digital image.
Please attach a file and/or provide a link to three existing texts that you might refer to as a model for your project. You might not find one text that perfectly models how you envision your project. The goal is that three models together will help you and me have a sense of your vision. As such, when you submit your three links and/or attachments, make sure that you also include A) complete and accurate bibliographic information for the source and B) a brief 2-4 sentence note about which aspect of this text you’re thinking about as a model for your project and why:
Citation: Du, Kun. Drum Island and Bowl Bridge. 2021. Ink and color on silk. Mizuma Art Gallery, Singapore.
Note: Kun brings together traditional Chinese painting with modern music to create landscapes based on the waveforms of electronic music pieces that he’s composed. Although my piece is more abstract visually, it is conceptually similar in that it is based on the unique sound waves that make up all of these songs. While the mood of his pieces is melancholy and emptier, my own is colorfully bolder to reflect the assertiveness of the songs selected.
Citation: Kandinsky, Wassily. Composition VII. 1913. Oil on canvas. The State Tretyakov Gallery. Moscow, Russia.
Note: Kandinsky’s abstract compositions demonstrate his synesthesia through an association of colors, lines, and shapes with different musical sounds; this work in particular features bright, warm hues and a flowing sense of movement through layered, blocky shapes, which I want to emulate in my own piece. Since I don’t have synesthesia myself, I’m choosing a similar color palette that evokes these overarching themes of strength and resistance, with predominantly red, blue, pink, and purple hues. The layering of the various sound waves also parallels his style, with specific colors attached to specific songs.
Citation: Fadojutimi, Jadé. Row, Row, Row Your Boat, Vigorously Down the Stream, Merrily, Merrily, Merrily, Merrily, Life is Not a Dream. 2021. Oil, oil stick, and acrylic on canvas. Pippy Houldsworth Gallery.
Note: Fadojutimi has explained that “The notion of the “self” and the fracturing of identity are explored in [her] paintings through creating locations of familiar unfamiliarity, fears and unknowns.” While her works make more use of space as an element than my project, I think the underlying themes and associated colors she uses to convey disillusionment, isolation, personal power, and resistance are useful to apply in my piece, especially as they relate to language and rhetoric.
Describe your ideal audience for this project. Your audience may be you or may include yourself, which is fine. However, you should still work to be specific about your audience. If your audience is yourself, say more. Yourself in what context? Is the audience for you in the first three months post graduation to record your thoughts and/or make a plan? Is this for you to hold when you feel lonely and/or lost and/or nervous about where you’re going? Is this for you to keep yourself honest and accountable?
When your audience experiences your project (its content and form), what do you hope your audience (even if your audience is just you) will experience or be able to contemplate and/or do?
My primary audience is myself since I want this project to reflect both my personal and academic experience at BC and in AADS. At any point in my life where I feel uninspired or disempowered, I hope to listen to this playlist and reflect on these assertions of belonging and resistance to remind myself of my own agency. For me, the music I listen to at a given time tends to mark that period, so I included songs that impacted me at specific points during my time at BC in hopes that I will be able to recall those moments. Still, by publishing this as a public playlist on Spotify and sharing it with people I’m close to, I hope that people will come across it and find it intriguing; whether they interpret it in their own way or in the way I aim to experience it, I think it has a potential to influence others’ perspectives on the interrelatedness of politics and music or to provide them with a lens through which they can view their own empowerment. Though others may not grasp the details and significance of the abstract visual art without my explanation, this component asserts its place (and relatedly, the place of these musicians and these overarching themes) through its bold hues, which are striking and perhaps even disruptive.
How does the content of your project relate to black study? Please be sure to address how the content responds to and/or draws from your experience of black study at BC as well how the form speaks to and/or might facilitate your efforts to continue black study beyond BC?
This playlist intentionally features 33 songs because the Master Number 33 is a high-vibrational number in numerology that is associated with creative self-expression, containing energies of compassion (for others and the self), motivation, spiritual strength, determination, and boldness. These themes undergird all the songs that I selected for this project, which centers around assertions of presence and self-determination, and I intentionally chose artists that I view as groundbreaking in terms of style, identity, and message. I believe these selections also highlight the multidirectional cultural exchanges that make up our globalized society through their collective rejection of rigid (and often racialized) genre categorizations or conventional understandings of authenticity. The lyrics I chose for the waveforms relate to black study in their practice of the signifyin’ tradition, which challenges hegemonic narratives through metaphor, irony, and metonymy.
While rethinking my project, I decided that the pairing of music with visual art would better reflect my experience with black study, especially since many Africana art traditions blend visuals, sound, and performance. I think each aspect has its own unique impact, but one cannot attempt to understand the visual piece without also listening to the assemblage of voices and narratives that comprise it. The digital form also could be viewed as a reflection of the Afrofuturist philosophy as a product of modern sound and software technology, especially in conversation with the sentiments of reclamation in the music’s lyrics. The form’s accessibility will allow it to accompany me on my journey through the next few years of my life (if not longer). It should continually inspire me to observe and listen to the world around me actively.
What supplies and/or materials will you need in order to create this project?
Do you need any special technology or software for the project?
Spotify Premium, Adobe Photoshop, Sidify Music Converter, Audacity Editing Software
What skills and/or technical know-how might completing your project require?
Ability to analyze lyrics and compositions
Knowledge about waveforms
First Draft of Visuals:
Downloaded .mp3 for all Spotify songs in Sidify application, converted to soundwaves in Audacity, then clipped and exported.
Imported 1/3 of clips into photoshop and applied hue/saturation/contrast filters specific to each—still need to recolor and modify other clips.