The Emotional Life of a Painting

The Piece
The auditory and the visual arts are closely intertwined in “The Emotional Life of a Painting” a cross-aesthetic collaboration between visual artist Julien Deiss (DE) and composer Tao Højgaard (DK). The work is executed in oil and acrylic on reinforced canvas, with nine built-in sound players powered by a built-in rechargeable battery. The sound players are accessed via jack connectors mounted directly in the canvas.

Venus with the Apple
Using Thorvaldsen’s Venus with the Apple as the motif, artworks are regarded as if they were sentient and conscious beings. The emotional life of the painting is illustrated through the interplay of nine individual audio files, achieving a unique cycle of 3.8 years with dynamic variation in content and length.

As a common focal point, the visual artist (Julien Deiss) and the composer (Tao Højgaard) have adhered to a set of compositional rules found in the traditional Japanese flower arrangement Ikebana, where trinity and asymmetry are core values. The shared compositional foundation facilitated the collaborative creative process and contributed to the cohesion of modalities.

The 6th Hour
Since the mathematics behind the formation of audio files results in a cycle of 3.8 years, this can be described as the life cycle of the painting. Therefore, the built-in power bank that supplies power to the sound players is constantly maintained. As part of the artwork, the 6th hour of the painting’s existence was recorded and released as a digital album on various music streaming services under the title “The Emotional Life of a Painting.”

Concert Installation
Although the artwork is a standalone piece, it also participates in musical collaborations with invited soloists from both the classical and rhythmic music traditions. Through dialectical musical conversations between a painting and a human being, the concepts of installation and concert are fused in a performative concert installation.