Songs In The Key of Textile

  • J Whitehead
The brief for this project, entitled ‘adapt’ was to take something be it a film, book etc and adapt it into a different medium ( a book to a film for example) but the outcome could be in any medium.
As I was interested in records I decided that I would focus on adapting my favourite record ‘Songs in the Key of Life’ by Stevie Wonder. I wanted to investigate the way music can be visualised and also wanted to look at new ways artists could create merchandise to create their music in a more physical sense by converting music into patterns on fabric which can later be turned into garments.
I first decided I wanted to look at music (songs in the key of life specifically) because I set myself the initial starting point of adapting a song. I had just bought SITKOL so decided to start there. I had already done some initial research on the album as part of my CTS work so I felt this would help me. I began by looking at the components inside CD players and record players to nd out how they amplify vibrations as I initially planned to use the vibrations of the music to draw the patterns with a pen or paintbrush. Through looking at technologies that trace vibrations such a seismographs I quickly realised that I wouldn’t get very organic shapes by using the vibrations so
I dropped that idea and decided to use max msp to create patterns based upon the frquencies of the music.
The music is input through the playlist, split into frequencies which output numbers. These numbers then correspond to either colour or size of the shape and that shape in the window changes accordingly. Two shapes move up the window at the same time so I tested this with the shapes being both spheres or the shapes being a sphere nd another shape. I found that having a sphere and a cone created the most interesting visual effect as the two coloyrs wored together to create the shape rather than blocking eachother out.
For my outcome I initially produced fabric samples of every track on the album. I then decided I wanted to print a garment. I selected a bodysuit as it was form ttin so I could still experiment how the form of the pattern and form of the body interacted. I selected my pattern from the song ‘Have a Talk With God’ purely because I felt this design lent itself to the shape of the bodysuit best and created contours around the waist which made it very ‘feminine’ for my design. I also created some wallpaper and a sheet of velvet from two other patterns as I wanted to experiment with texture. I wanted the whole pattern raised so that it would still be accessible to the blind but I didn’t have the time or funds so decided to print the fabric on a few textures with the idea that perhaps each song could have its own texture or style of garment.