Musica Universalis -- the pursuit of pure abstraction
The thesis exhibition, Musica Universalis, is a multi-sensory exhibition comprised of experimental weavings on deconstructed found pianos, systematic drawings, and paper scroll music boxes. The music boxes allow the viewer to hear the voice part represented on the weaving, or the notes of a systematic drawing, in isolation; a recording of a choral composition transcribed from the first systematic drawing of circles plays from the gallery speakers. The viewer can hear the individual's "song" and simultaneously hear the collective performance. The performance of the collective music box composition varies depending on the level of viewer engagement. I create system-based abstractions drawing from my understanding of structure within music and weaving, as well as analog and digital technologies, to achieve a purer abstraction. For the purposes of this paper, I define abstraction as artwork that reshapes the natural world for expressive purposes, interpreting expressive as relating to intuition, emotions and the subconscious. Therefore, I characterize pure abstraction as work that directly resonates within the viewer's soul or subconscious, having meaning that reaches beyond what is visible. I look to Wassily Kandinsky's Compositions and Paul Klee's Rhythmisches as case studies for the pursuit of pure abstraction, in which they drew from the formal qualities and conventions of Western music aesthetics to inform their visual abstractions. My response to their projects is to present work in which the visual and aural elements are of equal importance. This thesis briefly visits the projects of Kandinsky and Klee as they influenced the development of the immersive exhibition and documents the many facets to the viewer's experience within Musica Universalis.