Horizonal is a new set by composer/performer Ben Neill for his self-designed mutantrumpet with live interactive digital music and video. The imagery is taken from paintings by Los Angeles based artist Andy Moses, whose work is a futuristic hybrid of abstraction and landscape that suggests the theme of a horizon through the use of smooth horizontal lines. Moses’ work is painted on concave and convex surfaces which evoke a sense of movement in time and space, recalling the vistas of Pacific Ocean sunrises and sunsets; these qualities of his paintings inform the repurposed images that make up the dynamic visual component of Horizonal.
In Horizonal, the sounds and controllers of Neill’s hybrid electro-acoustic instrument animate the still images, creating a synthesis of audio and visual media that is made possible through multiple software applications. Over the course of the work the sound impacts the visual elements in gradually more radical ways. The music in the piece relies primarily on the live sampling of Neill’s instrument; the tones, timbres and modulations are all mapped across the audio and visual parameters. Minimal electronic beats and sub bass lines are introduced periodically to support Neill’s sonic and visual explorations. The work has an overall shape but the details of each performance are improvised, and therefore unique.
Both Moses and Neill use high-tech materials and techniques in their works to mimic patterns in nature. This approach is reflected in the fluid, open-ended character of Horizonal, which is created to be an immersive ambient experience. Neill has been making interactive music and video works for the past 15 years and in this piece chose to work with still images in order to challenge the idea of cinematic sound which functions as an accompaniment to the moving image. Horizonal can be described as an example of Visual Music that utilizes Audio-Visual Objects. These techniques along with the use of video as a light source give the work its futuristic yet natural quality.