Year of Grace, Day 203. Visualizing sounds

As part of clearing and sorting stuff accumulated over the past years living in Bonn, I’m going through my books, deciding which ones bear re-reading and which not. The rejected ones are going off into Bonn’s outdoor free libraries – these are small glass-covered shelves scattered about the city, one is just by Poppelsdorfer Allee, see below. Another, in the shape of a British red telephone box donated by Bonn’s sister city Oxford, stands 2 or 3 blocks away between the main campus of Bonn University downtown and the University’s main library, on the street parallel to the Rhine. People are free to help themselves to a book or two there, and can return them if they wish to or donate something in return. I have benefitted from a few interesting books, one of them being Hazlitt’s essays. And now it is my turn to bring back a few as well, for others to enjoy. English books are in the minority, naturally.

One of the books I had consigned to my “donate” pile was bought a year or so ago, and had thought then a promising one to read: At the Edge of Art, by Joline Blais and Jon Ippolito. But for some reason or other, whether because of the text design (too small for my senior eyes) or something else, I could not engage with it.

For some time now, since our decision to move, I haven’t bought any new books to read, not wishing to add more to already burgeoning shelves until we are resettled somewhere else. So just to give it another chance, back out of the donate pile and now as my bedtime companion, is At the Edge of Art.

And the amazing thing I have just come across is this work by Martin Wattenberg on The Shape of Song. And I could not resist sharing it with you. A long time ago, I had once considered for a paper on semiotics and art how artists give form to the content of their creations. Painters and other visual artists do it with colour and shape and writers and poets do it with text and sound, as do sculptors with their three-dimensional creations. But I was stumped when it came to music. But here it is: music in tangible form.

Wattenberg is a physicist and what he has done is connect recurring patterns with arcs. Fab!

It teaches me a lesson — never to give up on a book once thought promising, as it can reveal a thing or two worth knowing about. And At the Edge of Art certainly has.

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