In 2013 Sinéad Cullen, Mathias Baumann and Jo Cummins met at an Artists Bootcamp, which was run by the New York Foundation for the Arts in conjunction with the Centre for Creative
Practices in Dublin. Following this meeting a group of 26 artists formed the group idir. Sinéad, Mathias and Jo exhibited with idir in New York in 2014. The exhibition focused on
multidisciplinary art projects. As a result Sinéad, Mathias and Jo decided to collaborate on an experiment exploring visual imagery and musical interpretation. The end result is an unusual triptych of
two paintings linked by one piece of music.
Sinéad, a visual artists travelled to the Ecuadorian Rainforest to spend time with indigenous tribes and learn about their ancient connections to the natural world. There she made sketches from her
journey and on returning she completed a painting RaÍces del Mundo [roots of the world]. The image of this painting (but not the title and background story) was sent to Mathias Baumann. Mathias
is a composer and guitarist who interpreted Sinéad's painting in form of an original composition entitled Nucleus. Upon completion, this composition (again without the title) was sent to Jo
Cummins. Jo is a visual artist who sees colours and patterns when she hears music (synesthesia). Having listened to the music several times she identified one image which for her was the most intriguing and
which occurred at 4 minutes and 09 seconds into the piece. She painted this image exactly as she saw it, calling the painting Mathias' Music 4.09.
Only when Jo's painting was completed did the three artists come together to see and hear the final results. They met early in the morning at Sinéad's artist studio to interview her, then went to
Mathias' recording studio to hear his approaches and interpretations and finally drove to Jo's artist studio to find out more about her unusual gift of hearing colours. Conclusively the three artists talked
about the interesting links and themes between their three art pieces.
In early 2014, on a journey with the Pachamama Alliance, I spent a few weeks with the Achuar and Sapára tribes in the rainforests of Ecuador. My time there was a humbling opportunity to get an insight into a way of life that is deeply respectful of the individual within community, and within a world view that honours the interconnection of all life. Through stories, meals and ceremony we shared very different perspectives of the same world. I learned that their sense identity is intrinsically linked to the forest that they live with: there is no place where the forest ends and they begin; they are the very roots, branches and leaves of its over all alive-ness.
Raíces Del Mundo means roots of the world and came from a sketch I made there, feeling a sense of the lightness, simplicity and freedom in connection, acknowledging that our actions have a ripple effect on one another and the living system within which we exist. The sense of connection felt dynamic and alive in a way that felt mutual, and liberated me temporarily from the isolation that I clothe myself in, in order to 'survive' in our modern world.
The roots of our existence diverging into various forms of being,
all from the same source,
all going into different directions,
all sharing similar characteristics,
yet all unique and different,
every individual branch forming something new.
This was my interpretation of Sinead's painting of 'Raíces Del Mundo' when I saw it first. At that time i did not know the title or anything about the painting. So I started to compose my tune
The introduction of 'Nucleus represents the middle of the painting (the source-nucleus). The first theme is reflecting the green shapes which develop into purple colours in the interlude. The
improvisation focuses on the red and orange parts of the painting.
The branches lead to the yellow tops which are connected with eternity. The music reaches theme two. In this eternal background there are other single lines which are also part of creation and together
finally meet in the origin of it all. The music seems to start again...
My painting '4.09' is the final part of our experiment. Sinead created a beautiful, thoughtful, emotive painting 'Raices del Mundo' as a response to her experiences in the rainforest. Mathias studied 'Raices del Mundo' and composed 'Nucleus' a complex and very accurate interpretation of Sineads painting.
I had the easy part. With synaesthesia I see patterns and colours whenever I hear music. I listened to 'Nucleus' repeatedly enjoying the intricate and ever changing patterns of colour and light (I told you I had the easy part). My painting '4.09' is what I saw at precisely four minutes and nine seconds into the music. I had already prepared the black background overlaid with the myriad of coloured dots as the background in these paintings is always the same. Once I had the image clear in my head I immediately set to work. For these paintings I work very fast so I can capture the immediacy of the moment.
I was amazed at the end of this experiment to see the similarities between 'Raices del Mundo' and '4.09'.