The colour of soundPlaymodes

Spotlights 02.12.2021

In recent years, there has been a growing interest in the most avant-garde audiovisual creation in the world of contemporary creation, which merges the arts to create new bodies.

The eye. The dilated pupil. Colour and sound. Music and perception. A green scream. A blue howl. Creation and art. We are talking about hybridity. This is the proposal of PLAYMODES, an audiovisual research studio where the raw materials of sound and image are explored, pressed and twisted to give birth to a new organism: visual music.

As Santi Vilanova, one of the members of PLAYMODES, explains: "We unify the visual and sound language. We pursue an abstract language based on colour and sound. For our four-person team, hybridity is consubstantial to the PLAYMODES project, a natural state: "We have hybrid profiles ourselves. One is a computer engineer (Eloi Maduell), another in telecommunications (Eduard Frigola), the third is an architect (Eduard Llorens) and I am a graphic designer. However, they all share a passion for music, sound, art, visuals, software, abstraction, technology, perception and algorithms. "We are interested in technological and scientific research, artistic expression".

VEUS - Live performance @ Premis Ciutat de Barcelona 2020 from Playmodes Studio on Vimeo.

Although PLAYMODES' proposal is in keeping with a certain avant-garde spirit, Santi Vilanova humbly warns: "We have not invented anything. We are part of a historical trend in visual music that began with the colour organs of the 18th and 19th centuries, or with the first manifestations of visual cinema. I am thinking of Oscar Fischinger, Norman McLaren, artists who understood that painting could have a kinetic dimension. We are the heirs of all these elements. Kandinsky himself imagined his paintings as pictorial symphonies.  

When Santi assesses the project's beginnings in 2008, he remembers what a risky gamble it was to create PLAYMODES, because at that time the visual music scene was in the minority and did not generate the growing interest it does today. "The language of visual music was not very mature in our city (Barcelona)", he says. This is why Santi Vilanova welcomes the efforts of MIRA FESTIVAL, which is committed to making avant-garde proposals visible, to making unconventional audiovisual formats known. With two editions already held in Berlin, MIRA FESTIVAL has been held annually in Barcelona since 2011 and focuses on the intersection between art and digital culture. Its director, Oriol Pastor, also coordinates the digital arts degree at URL SALLE.

Cluster @ MIRA Festival. Barcelona 2016 from Playmodes Studio on Vimeo.

In addition to all these efforts to make the most avant-garde audiovisual creation known, there is the emergence of new generations of young people who see digitisation and hybridisation in the arts as a matter of course. "For young people, a digital tool is no different from a coloured pencil. Santi Vilanova adds without reservation: "Digital technologies are no longer an end in themselves, but we now use them to communicate stories and narratives.

With the fusion of light and sound to create an abstract language, PLAYMODES seeks to highlight the limit of our perceptions; not to replace reality, but to augment it, creating a second skin that envelops physical and real space. One of the latest works by these four contemporary creators is Formes, a collaboration with the Brossa string quartet, which performed graphic scores based on algorithms.

FORMS - String Quartet from Playmodes Studio on Vimeo.

Txema Seglers

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