Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Mini Exhibition

It went pretty well once all was said and done. By my estimation, about 200 people showed up...way more than I expected. The big exhibition in December (shortly after my birthday) is going to be much, much bigger, so it should be exciting.

Anyway, back to our artefact. We focused on sound and color systems. My contribution was a children's game called Mondrian Music:

This artefact focuses on colour and sound systems. Because man-made systems contain arbitrary elements (why is an A chord called an A chord and not a “maditrope”, and why is purple called purple and not “schwoopelkang”?), we decided to manipulate theses elements.

We translated a painting by Piet Mondrian into music by measuring the areas of colour and determining what percentage each colour block inhabited on the canvas. We then assigned a chord for each colour arbitrarily, but loosely using the Circle of Fifths as a guide. Later, we thought that we could create a game to allow people to create an aural version of a Mondrian painting. First, all players place the pieces face down on the template. Then, the conductor turns the pieces over in any order he or she desires and instructs the players to hit their bottles the number of times indicated on each playing piece.

This is the game:

Mondrian Music (for 4 players or more)

3 blue bottles
3 red bottles
3 yellow bottles
3 white bottles
3 black bottles
3 grey bottles
3 mallets or sticks (spoons in this case)
3 red rectangles
3 blue rectangles
8 white rectangles
4 black rectangles
4 yellow rectangles
5 grey rectangles

Not included:
Water (although, I included it last night)


1) Fill each of the bottles with water up to the top of the small windows.

2) The conductor divides the playing pieces face down among the other players, and all of the players place their pieces in the appropriate spaces.

3) The conductor gives one of each of the filled coloured bottles and a mallet to each of the other 3 players.

4) The conductor flips one of the coloured rectangles over. Each of the rectangles has a number of times the bottle should be hit. The conductor instructs the other players when to hit the coloured bottles (for example, if a black rectangle is being played, everyone should hit his or her black bottle when instructed). In other words, the conductor is in control of the rhythm. Players should hit their assigned bottles at the same time to play the chord. (If there are more than 4 players, other players wait until a current player either hits the incorrect bottle or hits a bottle before instructed to do so.)

5) When all of the pieces have been flipped over, the Mondrian painting has been played. You may now switch conductors and/or players.


Nene said...

Ok interested to see what kind of sounds were made when the bottles were struck and if strung together what the tune would be....Oh yeah is it a requirement of the game to personally empty the bottles before painting & filling with
H2O? Just saying if it is may not care about the sound...How was the game concept received?

Kirstyn said...

Wow! First of all, 200 people is a lot o' peeps. How are you guys using the word "artefact"? Sounds creative.

I love the idea of thinking about how different sounds get named! You're totally turning the relationship between music and language (music's dependence on language) on its head and "subverting the dominant paradigm". I dig it.

When you play the painting a certain way, does it sound like Joan Jett's "I hate myself for loving you"? :)

Tamraconteur said...

Unfortunately, we did not empty the wine bottles of their wine. Dumpster diving is not nearly as fun, but it is resourceful! ;) The game portion of our artefact was received pretty well. People seemed to like the interactivity of it. Each color played a chord, so the 3 red bottles each played a different note that when played together, played a chord.

Now I'm wondering if one of the painting's sound versions would come out sounding like a Joan Jett song. I personally think it would have been "I love Rock N Roll" or "Bad Reputation". ;)