Of mathematical creativity and hypnotic timbres

About the creation of »Moving Picture 946-3

A spherical dive begins as soon as the first note of trumpeter Marco Blaauw connects with the film »Moving Picture 946-3«.  The joint project of visual art, film, composition and live music, which can be experienced at Scala on June 24, is preceded by an exciting genesis.

There is something thoroughly hypnotic about it: the interdisciplinary artwork »Moving Picture 946-3,« which combines solo trumpet and acoustically manipulated sound by Rebecca Saunders (*1967) with the fascinating film by Corinna Belz (*1955) and Gerhard Richter (*1932).

The work's base is a high-resolution scan of the artist's painting »946-3« and Richter's vision, which resulted in the premiere of »Moving Picture 946-3« at the Kiyomizu-dera Temple in Kyoto in 2019 and the performance of the final version at the Berliner Festspiele Musikfest in 2020.

The first impulses for »Moving Picture 946-3« lie a bit further in the past and go back to the publication of Gerhard Richter's book »Patterns: Divided, Mirrored, Repeated« in 2011. In his book, he explains the mathematical logic of his method of division and mirroring, which gives individual abstract paintings unexpected patterns: the original painting is divided vertically, exactly in the middle. The division is done according to the 4096 / 2048 / 1024 / 512 / 256 / 128 / 64 / 32 / 16 / 8 / 4 /2. All phases of the vertical nesting and mirroring inherent a symmetry, always showing new form and colour variations of the painting.

Belz and Richter had already documented the principle in 2016 in » Richter's Patterns«. In September 2017, Richter approached Belz again with a message that would conclude their six years of research and development. Richter saw a new way in which his process for print media could also be applied to moving images. A second collaboration began with the goal of creating something new, unconventional, with a very own narrative. So, from the beginning, the goal was to realize a new process dimension. For the core of the visual experience, Richter chose his painting »946-3,« which soon revealed stages of constant transformation through division, reflection and repetition. 

The process for moving images is oriented precisely to the hitherto printed version of the process. In the cinematic realization, this means nothing else than that all impressions originate from this one painting. To the results of the strict dictate of division, mirroring and repetition whose astonishing variety of form and colour variations offers many layers and possibilities for figurative associations. At the advanced stage of the process, when the painting is reduced to a series of coloured lines, these symmetrical variations are no longer visible but still subtly perceptible.

As composer Rebecca Saunders describes, »At first glance, the film »Moving Picture 946-3« is simply astonishing – its radiance, hypnotic and absolute sharpness, and above in which the sense of time is suspended. When you look at the tiny particles of the visual image, one seems to be drawn directly into the fragments of colour «.

Saunders' music complements the moving image of myriad coloured strips into an interdisciplinary Gesamtkunstwerk. Her tones composed for Marco Blaauw's trumpet »explore the delicate nuances of the individual musical fragments: they trace the grain of the timbre, penetrate the core and trace the sound particles themselves.« Their atmospheric sound painting is subtle yet crucial to the 36-minute experience, in which trumpeter Marco Blaauw brings the Gesamtkunstwerk initiated by Gerhard Richter to life.

Bild © N.N.