Can Adding Sound to Paintings Change the Way You Feel About Them?

Interesting Development's new art project

Sound brings such emotional power to the art form of film. What could it do for paintings and other forms of visual art? 

Brand design and creative agency Interesting Development is exploring the concept with renowned sound designer and electronic musician Joseph Fraioli, in a new three-painting experiment as part of the "Five Ways In" exhibition at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. 

Fraioli, who runs Jafbox Sound, and Paul Caiozzo, Interesting Development's creative chief, approached the Walker with their idea of creating soundscapes for paintings. The Walker loved the idea and suggested three works from its permanent collection: David Hockney's "Hollywood Hills House," Georgia O'Keeffe's "Lake George Barns," and emerging Minneapolis-based artist Caroline Kent's "Further and Farther Than One Expects." 

See the paintings here: 


David Hockney, 'Hollywood Hills House'


Georgia O'Keeffe, 'Lake George Barns'


Caroline Kent, 'Further and Farther Than One Expects'

Fraioli composed a pair of soundscapes for each of the three paintings—six in all. Visitors to the museum can use headphones hanging next to the artworks to listen to the soundscapes, which are all about 60 seconds long and run on a continuous loop. 

The experience is also available online at thesoundofart.org.

Caiozzo and Fraioli are good friends and were looking for ways to collaborate. (They initially connected through Caiozzo's love of Fraioli's techno music, made under the name D'atachi. They grew close enough that Fraioli is now godfather to Caiozzo's children.) 

"I've been mesmerized by his talent for a long time," Caiozzo tells Muse. "We were talking about ideas, and we came to this concept. What if art, sculpture or paintings could benefit from the amazing emotional qualities that sound possesses? A soundtrack can dramatically change a piece of film, turning horror into a love story. Not music, but sound design—an often overlooked element of emotional storytelling." 

The goal was to create two dramatically different soundscapes that would change a viewer's interpretation of each piece. 

"What made this project extra special for me was researching the backstories of the artists and their work, and then representing their artistic intentions with as much authenticity as possible through sound," says Fraoli. "The creative process really gave me a new appreciation for their artwork." 

The project helps the Walker highlight pieces from its permanent collection, helps museum goers dig deeper into them, and adds a welcome experiential layer to their visit. 

The "Five Ways In" exhibition, including the soundscapes, will be up at the Walker until September 2021. 

CREDITS

Client: Walker Art Center
Sound Design: Joseph Fraioli, Jafbox Sound

Website:
Creative Directors: Phillip Nessen, Paul Caiozzo
Design: Jeff Kardos, Ira Oksman
Producer: Jonathan Durrant

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Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd is editor in chief of the Clio Awards and the founding editor of Muse by Clio.

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