Thursday’s Special at Paula’s: Organized Noise

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The notion of son organisé seems to be central to composer Edgar Varèse’s understandung of music. “Son” can be translated into both ‘sound’ and ‘noise,’ and it is the ‘noise’ part that fascinates me. For music, it means broadening the material that can be used for a composition: Varèse apparently claimed that ‘noise’ is only another word for any sound one subjectively does not like .

In my eyes the concept of organized noise begs the question of its applicability to pictures. Photography is known to record ‘noise’ in capturing the old, the broken, the decrepit – the sights someone might not like subjectively. The medium appears to lend itself to this aesthetic choice, and it has been keenly criticized for it.

But there is also the aspect of organizing noise into music – or visual ‘noise’ into pictures. Some sights overwhelm us with their complexity, some with their ugliness or apparent meaninglessness. Nonetheless, I claim that photography can be a means of reducing this complexity, or making sense of the ‘noise.’

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So, how to approach this? Here is a couple of thoughts:

  • Take your pick: Not all available ‘sounds’ have to be heard at the same time – not all the available elements have to go into the composition of the picture. Get closer, eliminate some of the ‘noise.’
  • Look for a main voice: Find a visual anchor that dominates all the other elements. Or look for a visible hierarchy of 1st, 2nd, 3rd (etc.) voices. What’s dominant? What’s just background noise?
  • Find a rhythm: Straight horizontal or vertical frame-to-frame lines can convey such a sense.

For this challenge abstract pictures may work better than those showing recognizable objects. The abstract pictures in this post were made ‘using’ the battered trash container below.

DSC02481-kComments are closed for this post because I would like to invite you to visit Paula’s Lost in Translation and participate in the challenge. Thank you – and have fun!

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