OK, what "big ideas" are we going to discuss? Consider that visual art and music are part of a much larger world of artistic production. To understand what they have in common, we begin with the notion of movement. That means we can see how works provide an illusion of movement or involve physical movements. An immediate movement associated with music is dance, whether out at a club or at a concert, certain kinds of music inspire you to "move" with it. It is less well-known that visual arts are also associated with movement as it is made and seen. Some works are even made to move. In addition to movement, audience members contemplate music or visual media and, say, their personal relationships by listening to everything from "love songs" to life in "the hood."
Movement in Visual Form
In this video, we see an animation that brings to life the symoblic movement in Mondrian's Broadway Boogie Woogie.
Like many who fled from the Nazis in Europe, Piet Mondrian moved to New York during World War II. His painting "Broadway Boogie Woogie" reflects his fascination with the syncopated beat and the grid of architecture in Midtown Manhattan.
Now lets analyze this painting (click here to see it). Look carefully at the work and you will notice rows of repetative yellow, blue and red shapes, some longer, some shorter. Music also is written with varying patterns of notes that repeat to create the musical rhythm. Some say that if you look at Broadway Boogie Woogie long enough, your eyes will begin to skip around the image looking for a place to rest. This is an example of how an image can tell you where to look, and then look again.
One artist or another could visualize the movement in this painting according to the way they make sense of it. Click on the video on the right — Broadway Boogie-Woogie the Animation (Lost in the City) — to see how this image can be digitally animated as a game landscape.
Here is a video that visualizes rhythm in Steve Reich's Clapping Music. Think for a minute, if you could hear Mondrian's painting, how would it be similar to this Clapping song?
Movement in visual form can range from physical forms of movement in space to conceptual implications of movement in a visual image. Mondrian's painting is an example of color and shape used to trick the eye into thinking of movement, even though the surface of the painting is static.
Movement in Musical form
New musical forms called jazz were promoted by radio and the recording industry. It was the first time that mass industry consciously marketed one style of music and culture to teenagers and another to their parents. This difference is what sociologists referred to as the “generation gap.”
Here is a video of Meade Lux Lewis's Roll Em.
Many traditional white families saw jazz as problematic because it emerged among mostly African American communities. These families were also worried about new concepts of sexuality which challenged the values of older generations. The problem got bigger when jazz music was broadcast on radio. Parents, who were used to monitoring their children's entertainment, became worried about what radio broadcasts would transmit into their homes with the flip of a switch. This conflict over race and culture would perpetuate most of the 20th century and is still present for some, today, as we will see.
More about recent forms of Jazz can be found at at this page.
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