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  Duderstadt Center
Exhibit gives listeners earful of painting sounds

When parallel paths cross, innovation results. And so it happened for two professors—one from art and the other from music—each traveling down his own path until they met up nearly five years ago to create a visual/acoustic collaborative installation.
School of Art & Design Professor Vincent Castagnacci and Michael Gould, an associate professor in the School of Music, prepare their exhibit, "Into the Quarry: A Parallel Convergence." It is on display through Oct. 8 at the Duderstadt Center. (Photo by Melissa Harris)

Following the suggestion of School of Art & Design (A&D) Dean Bryan Rogers for faculty members to have lunch with someone they didn't know in order to foster interdisciplinary links, Vincent Castagnacci chose Michael Gould as his dining partner.

Castagnacci, a visual artist in A&D, and Gould, a percussionist in the School of Music, knew the combination of art and music had been around for ages. But by using the creative techniques and physical movements of the painter as the auditory theme, their collaboration generated something new.

By adding the integration of digital audio technology and surround sound, the duo formed a new synergy of art and music.

For the project, Castagnacci painted on coated Mylar drumheads. Each completed drumhead, mounted on a five-ply maple drum shell which houses a speaker, acts as a resonator for the playback of digitally altered sounds of painting—some interpreted by Gould on drums.

"Castagnacci uses a variety of implements to paint," Gould says. "He uses scrapers, snap-lines, electric sanders, rollers and wire brushes, creating an extraordinary and unique sound."

Gould recorded Castagnacci's drawing and painting with close-proximity microphone placement. This allowed him to use digital software to manipulate the results, often stretching the time, lowering the pitch, sweeping sound bytes across an entire gallery, and layering more bytes and musical ideas.

The process has produced 24 paintings, each with its own speaker and separate channel of audio information. Their exhibit, "Into the Quarry: A Parallel Convergence," is on display through Oct. 8 at the Duderstadt Center Gallery on North Campus. The gallery is open noon-6 p.m. Mondays-Fridays and 1-5 p.m. Sundays.

"The 'sounding paintings' will envelop the viewer/listener and create a truly unique experience and feel," Gould says of the exhibit.

"Sonic attributes may or may not be contained or suggested in the surface look of my painting," Castagnacci says. "These painted drumheads may embody and represent certain sound values. Whatever equivalent value resides in Mike's music exists in the feeling for my work that his composition has managed to communicate."

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