Music as is seen
the relevance of music in visual surrealism
r submitted in partial fulfil ment of the Pre Diploma presentation
2013 March, Under Graduate Diploma in Communication Design,
from Maeer's MIT Institute of Design.
Faculty Guide: Prof. Shirish Kathale
External Guide: Sandeep Deshpande
The Song of Love
Giorgio de Chirico (Italian, born Greece. 1888-1978)
Paris, June-July 1914. Oil on canvas, 28 3/4 x 23 3/8" (73 x 59.1 cm). Nelson A.
Rockefel er Bequest. (c) 2012 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SIAE, Rome
Unlikely meetings among dissimilar objects were to become a strong theme in modern art
(they soon became an explicit goal of the Surrealists), but de Chirico sought more than
surprise: in works like this one, for which Apollinaire used the term "metaphysical," he
wanted to evoke an enduring level of reality hidden beyond outward appearances. Perhaps
this is why he gives us a geometric form (the spherical ball), a schematic building rather than
a specific one, and inert and partial images of the human body rather than a living, mortal
Music as is seen
The relevance of music in visual surrealism
Music has never entered this world alone. It can be seen as well as heard and felt. Ever since
music as an element became commercial, it has been as visual as audile, at least has tried to
match the resemblance. The various forms in which music can be seen are performances,
phonographic records, cassettes, stage designs, album art and many other artistic
When looked at each concept some of the music portrayals are literal. They are lyric to word,
lyric to facial expression and gestures and lyric to realistic nostalgic imagery. To observe
towards the deeper factor, art that expresses music is in the form of surrealistic images. Very
famous album artists all over the world have used surrealism as a method to display or
portray the music inside.
During the 70s an American music company, Opera D'Oro, selected an architect following
the surrealist movement, Rafal Oblinski, to design a series of their album cover art for the
purpose of marketing. Rafal made over 100 cover arts for opera music that had surrealistic
paintings. The paintings tapped into the viewers' subconscious and stir up associations that
reveal truths about opera that could not be put into words.
Later many album cover artists emerged and used surrealism as a technique. They called it
the truth beyond reality. Salvador Dali's surrealistic music video with Walt Disney in 1946,
`Destino' is the most perfect summary of this entire introduction. Some other album art
covers that I went through were KORN's - follow the leader, fall out boy's - infinity on high,
Greenday's - American idiot and dookie, Metallika's - master of puppets, Iron Maiden,
Linkin Park, Theory of dead men, Marilyn Manson's - mechanical animals, Nirvana's -
nevermind and videos and album covers of Pink Floyd.
My study opens a chapter in the commercialization of music with the help of images and the
importance of the usage of surrealism. It covers study in three major fields - psychology,
neurology and philosophy. The use of visual surrealism is evident in music. The statement
that remains unanswered is the relevance of music in visual surrealism.
The study hence structures itself in the three most important aspects of human belief and
faith. Music and image both are a combined result of neurology, the medicinal study of the
human nervous system; psychology, the scientific study of the human mind and its behavior;
and philosophy, the study of fundamental nature of knowledge, reality and existence.
Introduction to topic
1. Music and its importance
2. Why the topic of visual surrealism?
3. Structure of the study
Thesis 6 - 25
Research and Analysis
1. Formation of art
2. Automatic Intelligence
3. Musical Intelligence
4. Relation of music perception and Image forming
History and Behavior - Psychology
1. Emergence of Surrealist Movement
2. Musical instances in surrealism and automatism
3. Subconscious and the influence of music on it
1. Music and Surrealism
2. "Beyond the truth" factor
3. Musical Picture
Overall summary of the draft
Book References and Web
Formation of Art
Neurologists localize symptoms rather than elemental neurological functions
- Hughlings Jackson, Neurology of the Arts (2004, Imperial College Press)
Nervous system is an exclusively sensory-motor machine that works by integrating afferent
and efferent electrochemical impulses. Scientific neurology demands rigorous adherence to
such matters as thermodynamics and the laws of conservation of energy and mass.
In hierarchical terms, the mental aspect of art making can be regarded as an inductive process
that elevates concepts to conscious awareness. This inductive process appears when a
superior and controlling mental state, namely consciousness, stops working temporarily. Paul
Klee, an inspired commentator as well as a one-man art movement, wrote that art does not
reproduce the visible; rather it makes invisible visible. This stands as one of the most
profound statement of where art comes from, but a discerning neurologist would hesitate to
say where in Klee's nervous system his words, much less his paintings or drawings arose.
Visual artists or musicians may not have the verbal skills to describe precisely what they do,
and we ought to be skeptical of reports by artists about the process of their own creativity.
Nevertheless, first person reports provide a primary source, a direct insight into the mind of
the artist. Creative people often observe that their own art making requires a certain alteration
of consciousness, an exalted state of mind conductive to the creative process. Those with
particular insight tell us of a type of hallucination that envelops them when they are doing
something artistic. The use of alcohol or other mind-altering substances to artificially
produce or prolong this state has been common since the very beginning of art - an
experience also well known to many neurologists.
Creative process brings some ill-defined visual, auditory or verbal image from a
subconscious level to a conscious level. Hence in evolutionary terms, creative state is lower
than the conscious awareness.
There is evidence that Georgio de Chirico and Pablo Picasso used their migrainous visual
auras as a source of artistic inventions. Headache is one of the commonest disorders of the
brain. To have it summed many neurotic patients have achieved great levels in art. To name a
few examples, Hildegard of Bingen, famous for her music compositions, writings, art and
theology and poems as well as the knowledge of botany, with a severe illness since the age of
12. Ergotism patients in 15th century, stone in the head disease and schizophrenic Bosch,
Vincent Van Gogh diagnosed of epilepsy, schizophrenia, neurosyphilis, bipolar disorder,
substance abuse, absinthe, delirium tremens, Meniere's disease, lead poisoning and acute
To conclude, I have stated that creativity comes when the conscious is either forcefully or
automatically reduced to have subconscious more prominent.
In the previous chapter I have concluded that creativity or the possibility of art comes from
subconscious. It is not a part of our memory. The illness of painter Katherine Sherwood gives
a perfect example. Professor Sherwood was an accomplished artist when, at the age, 44, she
suffered severe dominant hemisphere stroke. Since then she has painted with her left hand
and has achieved rather more acclaim and financial success after her stroke than she has
before it. Neurologists compared her paintings before and after the stroke. Sherwood
describes her paintings now as unburdened flowing freely from her subconscious.
Automatism happens after the intake of drugs and alcohol. According to Andre Breton, one
of the founders of the surrealist movement, said that surrealism designates a certain psychic
automatism, a near equivalent to dream state, whose limits are quite difficult to define.
Automatic intelligence is hence that is undefined, but it remains to be state of mind when it
starts developing a picture of reality that seems unreal to consciousness and yet with a deeper
meaning to the mind.
The idea that the processing of musical material in the brain was distinct from that of
language gradually became dominant, leading to the design of specific cognitive model. The
processing of language and music is differently lateralized, i.e. in the left and right
hemispheres respectively. It is although very difficult to localize the precise organization of
music processing by the brain. Neuroimaging studies proved that non-verbal auditory tones
always induced a clear-cut activation of the temporal lobes. Temporal lobes are situated
underneath the temples and it includes the area responsible for the understanding of speech
and stimuli related to language.
In 1997, Imperial College Press, London published an extensive study on the perception by
non-musical subjects of the basic components of music, namely pitch, timbre, rhythm and
familiarity. This is the only study that has simultaneously assessed these four components of
musical perception. It concludes that musical perception is distributed in both left and right
hemispherical lobes. Specific networks for episodic memory of musical material do not exist.
The basic components of music material appear to involve bilaterally located brain regions
not specifically functioning for musical material.
Musical perception or thought is often related to metaphors. Light instruments like the flute
or the oboe emphasize silent neurons in cerebrum. William James, an influential
neuropsychologist, writes that the major principle of his psychology is that "the
consciousness which itself an integral thing not made of parts corresponds to the entire
activity of the brain, whatever may be there at the moment." Music is used to control pain.
The logic used in this process is that music causes sufficient level of reduction of stress