Winner: U-M Best “Time Based Art”

Recently, I competed in the U-M Science as Art competition, taking first place in “Time based art”. This description was featured with the musical piece as part of an exhibit put on by the college of science.

Abstract

The Big Bang uses synthetic and orchestral instrumentation to convey the conditions of our early universe and the structures that emerged from within this chaos. By eliminating the traditional juxtaposition of real and digital instruments, the piece aims to blur the barriers between art and science and project the underlying beauty of our universe more fully.

Written Explanation of Artwork

The Big Bang is my attempt to convey the early conditions of the universe melodically. To achieve this, I scored with a combination of synthetic sounds and orchestral music. There are over 30 separate instruments in this piece between the sound effects, strings, woodwinds, brass, timpani, organ and marimba. Each carries a symbolic place in the mix, but broadly: the synths project confusion and disarray while the orchestral components imply a structure beginning to take shape.

Like the universe, my piece begins with a large boom and the scattering remnants of charged particles. As the dust settles, my melody emerges from this chaos and takes baby steps toward structure. Early in the piece, we can hear how the different instruments stutter step in finding their melodic place. Yet as the drums build, each instrument’s place within the mix becomes more certain, precise and layered. In the final moments, all chaos dies away and we are left with only beautiful structure. The melody, a product of the chaos, is all that is left of our universe.

Overall, piece is really about the beauty of the universe: in both the chaos we struggle to understand and the meaning we give to the structures that emerge. Like the big bang itself, my score aims to tie all things to a common root and convey the underlying beauty in the movement of time. The contrasting instrumentation attempts to rethink the split between seemingly authentic art and the science which some claim is too mathematical to be emotional. By moving them in and out of rhythm together, I hoped to break down the “barriers” between science and art and show them intertwined.