I recently collaborated with visual artist James Sutherland on a moving-image/sound-art piece entitled ‘flow’.

This work relates to the writings of Hungarian psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi., who contends that people are happiest when they are in a state of flow— a state of concentration or complete absorption with the activity at hand and the situation. Artists, musicians, sportspeople are familiar with this state: “being in the zone”.

The work is autotelic, and invites the viewer to enter into a state of “flow” where any narrative is drawn from within. On first viewing, the work appears to be repetitive in terms of sound and image, but subtle shifts exist in space and texture. This repetitiveness seeks to lull the viewer into a quasi-meditative state: a reference to “being in the work” in abstract expressionist tradition.

Musically this piece explores a harmonic field of specific pitches, constructed with an internal symmetry around the note F4 using both the major and minor 3rd intervals alternately. This internal symmetry is not overtly obvious upon listening due to the offset nature of the melodic placement. Audio effects enhance and alter the sonic envelope paths – thus creating a sense of musical movement in the ‘negative space’.

This piece was selected as a finalist for the 2013 National Contemporary Art Awards – and is currently showing as part of the exhibition at the Waikato Museum. 

If you are in or near Hamilton, please go down and check it out in person (along with all the other art works on display)!

But if you aren’t going to be near the museum, or would just like to check it out online, then you can do so below. Make it full screen, and chuck some headphones on.

flow from James Sutherland on Vimeo.