Slow Light is a collection of works and associated technologies exploring the translation of visual forms and in particular colour to musical parameters. The name ‘slow light’ comes from a discussion with Australian classical guitarist and composer Philip Houghton (1954 – 2017) in our only meeting, were we quickly agreed that music was nothing more (or less) than slowed down light – and light, accelerated music for that matter. The bespoke translator/instrument Kandinsky has become central to recent works in such a colour/light translation, its ability to automate both discrete and continuous colour responses, with a variety of layering, and trajectories through the image beyond the conventional left-right reading.
For Evelyn Glennie’s 2018 Rhythm of Life radio series I produced a number of sonifications of Bridget Riley (1931 -) prints archived at Tate Britain. Of these, a piece derived from a systematic reading of Riley’s Nataraja (1993) was broadcast. The sonification (translated to notation for violinist Anne-Marie Curran-Cundy) captures the complex but satisfying 10:7 tiling dimensions and the almost Sheppard-Risset tone sense of constant ascent, occasional breaks and shimmering perceptual confusion.
Other works in the series take a more traditional left to right score-reading of the work, with time horizontally and pitch as height. However, other dimensions are added such as focal length to volume (Seed Pods), material type to instrument group (Skylines), and in the case of a translation of Kandinsky’s Several Circles (1926), colour to harmonic content/timbre.
Some further examples are presented below and are quite self evident in the inclusion of a red read-line. In many of the Hidden Music talks I give I create a new piece of music based on the venue or location, such as a cryptographic translation of a name, or a skyline of the local environment. Charterhouse Skyline and Canterbury Skyline are included here.