Studies for musical notations and emotional scores

Monika Bravo

Born in Bogotá, Colombia, Monika Bravo lives and works in New York. She examines perception in order to question the mental construction that is the world we live in. She uses her artistic practice as a tool to decipher her relationship with emotional space. Using images, sound, industrial materials, and technology, she creates situations – objects and environments – that allude to recognizable landscapes, thus examining the notion of space/time as a measure of reality. Among her most recent exhibitions are Waterweavers at Art Museum of the Americas, Washington (2015), Centro Conde Duque, Madrid (2015), and Bard Graduate Center, New York (2014); Theorem. You Simply Destroy the Image I Always Had of Myself at MANA Contemporary, Jersey City (2015); and Affective Architectures at Aluna Art Foundation, Miami (2014). Her installation The Sound of the Word Is Beyond Sense was featured in the Vatican Pavilion at the recent 56th Venice Biennial.

When composers create music they employ a graphical musical language, producing a musical score so that their compositions can be interpreted over and over again. The score tells the interpreter — that is, the musician or musicians — how to locate the sounds in time so that they can be heard in space. Because it can simply be felt, and does not require analysis by the conscious mind, music is by far the most emotional of all the arts. I wanted to create my own emotional score, a visual representation of what it feels like when I listen to specific pieces of music. I have a profound connection to sound, but although I received musical training very early in my life, I am unable to play an instrument.

These studies begin with drawings made with graph paper and pencil, which, after being scanned and digitally vectorised, are re-drawn line by line, then printed and once again drawn over with graphite, before adding layers of acrylic pieces, glass, wood, and paint. Using the original score as a starting point, the project generates ever-changing variations in form and shape.

For Mana Contemporary in Jersey City, I created a 44-foot site-specific installation, based on three drawings that are repeated in form and scale across the entire wall. I used paint, graphite, glass, acrylic, tape, rulers, lasers, and a projector to make the drawings come alive. As part of the installation, a short animation, which recalls Hans Richter’s 1921 film Rhythm 21, was displayed on a 70-inch monitor.

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