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The art of Noise



We all know the old adage, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” But how often is it the cover art that reaches out from the shelf and grabs you? How often are we unsurprised to find that the artwork on an album’s packaging perfectly meshes with the music locked inside? Celebrating that relationship and its ability to inspire is Norman Arts Council’s newest exhibit, Noise Makers, on display at Mainsite Contemporary Art in Norman.

Joshua Boydston, the gallery manager who helped build the show, said this was precisely the impetus.

“Great art, I feel, clearly communicates the ideas behind it,” he said. “The best album covers or concert posters do just that ... draw your ear in through your eyes.”

Mixing music and art is nothing new. Visual artists and musicians have long shared a chummy relationship; think Warhol and The Rolling Stones, for instance. Just as fashion and pop music seem to go hand in hand, music and the visual arts inform each other.

Every artist contributing to Noise Makers has an intimate relationship with music. Chad Mount is a local artist for whom music is an integral part of his work. He has designed cover art for several local acts — including Horse Thief — and has since stepped away from more traditional mediums. He has been working with the physical impact of sound on his paintings — projection mapping onto various surfaces — and will do a live demonstration during the closing festivities Jan. 10; he plans to project parts of his visual art onto a speaker that is completely whited out.

like playing with the idea of the speaker, which is the conventional
source for sound, and have it be silent but making lots of noise
visually,” he said. It’s playing with the concept of the link between
quiet and loud, adjectives we use for both music and visual cues.

addition to visual art, bridging the gap from music to art in the other
direction is Norman darkwave outfit Depth & Current, which will
have an audiovisual installation featuring its new single. The band’s dreamy and atmospheric music will provide part of the soundtrack for the exhibit.

the work is bold and colorful but still drastically different,”
Boydston said. “Each of the artists seem to have a style of music they
lean toward, be it punk, folk, psychedelic rock, indie pop, hip hop and
any intermingling of any of those genres. And you can spot that in the
pieces these artists have provided for the show. I hope viewers will
take the opportunity to talk to the artist of the works they most
identify [with]. I wouldn’t be surprised if they find a new favorite
band or song in thanks to that interaction.”

Bridging the gap from visual art to music in such a tangible way allows the observer to see the connection, and Noise Makers was created to visually represent that give-and-take relationship.

exhibit is] not so much a literal translation of love of music into art
or vice versa,” Boydston said. “I think that this expression — because
it’s less concrete — is that much more exciting to dive into and
explore. There’s more than meets the eye at first glance, something to
leave behind and still think about.”

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