THOMAS BEY WILLIAM BAILEY
PROCESS COLOR (2007)
WARNING: THIS VIDEO CONTAINS STROBING VISUALS, PLEASE PROCEED WITH CAUTION.
“Process Color” is a cross-modal / audio-visual / flicker video project I worked on throughout 2007. All the original project files and screening copies have been lost or accidentally destroyed, and the only surviving version is this .avi: download it here. (I recommend viewing with VLC Media Player for best results). The 6 pieces on the original Process Color DVD were originally screened in my then friends’ F13 Gallery / shop in Toronto in 2008, and mostly unseen since that time. I briefly uploaded files to Vimeo some years ago, but felt it foolish to pay a monthly fee to host a single video there when I was “food insecure” as they say.
The program was exclusively composed of synaesthetic audio/visual combinations built using an audio visualizer program whose output, seen in retrospect, is probably immediately recognizable to individuals working with “sound art” in the early 21st century. These interpretations appear on a vertical strip in the foreground of each video, while the background consists of randomly strobing, disorienting patterns and heavily blurred imagery seeping through a solid color. The sound pieces on the original DVD consisted only of one constant base frequency that is believed to be synchronous with that color, along with the sound of a heavily processed human voice intoning the colorʼs name. These voices were deliberately camouflaged so that the verbal information would be perceived on a more subliminal level. The theme of this piece was intense concentration, and the realization of how difficult it is, in the present information-saturated era, to focus conscious attention on an isolated thought / memory for even 5 seconds without being deluged with extraneous visual noise - remaining fixated on the flickering foreground graphic alone will probably be a challenge for most casual viewers.
Other than audio-visually representing the daily dance of concentration and confusion, this simple experiment was born out of an affinity for certain aspects of Color Field art, i.e. the artistsʼ insistence that “we start with color” (Rothko), and that human drama can be imparted onto even the most apparently ʻneutralʼ forms- no visual or sonic ornamentation is needed for us to begin the intensely personal process of projecting our dreams and desires and elaborating on them. Unadorned color affords far fewer opportunities for obstruction of this process: no hackneyed political statements, no commercial exploitation, and none of the inconclusiveness that continues to plague creative enterprise this far into the 21st century.
Each of the six audio/visual pieces was originally named after an artist either reported to have experienced synesthesia, or to have worked towards the furthering of sight / sound synthesis in their own artistic undertakings, though I now find this feature unnecessary and have done away with it - I recommend watching this as a complete undertaking rather than dividing it into specific chapters as that titling scheme suggested.
Synaesthesia, either adventitious or inherited, is a condition which often aids the creative process by allowing the creator to visualize notes, audio tones, letters of the alphabet and so on as raw color.