Published September 7, 2017
A circle of icy spheres swirl across a dark wall in BERG Contemporary. They dance in unison to a series of piano chords, spinning in orbit and sometimes forming patterns, falling into sync before cascading out of order once more only to coincide differently moments later. It’s a hypnotic motion that brings to mind an army of pale moons cast in a cosmic ballet, or the mathematical swirl of electrons circling atoms, or the mesmerising patterned formation of sand on a Chladni plate.
The artist and composer behind the work is Dodda Maggý, who explains, somewhat surprisingly, that the animation, ‘Étude Op. 88, No. 1’ (2017), was created by hand rather than with a computer-generated algorithm. “They’re opals that I scanned,” says Dodda. “I don’t work with computer generated imagery, but I do use a computer. It’s a basic animation technique—I’ve developed my own way of working, over the years.”
The work on view in the exhibition, which is entitled ‘Variations,’ has been two years in the making, but the process of researching the relationship between sound and music started much earlier. “My background is in music,” explains Dodda. “I entered the visual arts after that. When I went into art school, I wasn’t sure whether to study composition or visual arts—but in visual arts I felt that I could do both. Then I went back to study composition again.”
Dodda’s studies led to a series of animations entitled ‘DeCore’—a colourful, psychedelic presentation that’s exhibited alongside the icy dance of the exhibition’s centrepiece, ‘Étude Op. 88, No. 1.’
“I was exploring techniques used in sound design, and applying them to video, working with synaesthesia,” she explains. “I was interested in visualisations of sound, and what the links are. What I discovered is that the link is proportion—that you can link visual proportions with those found in music. Intervals in music are the proportion of space between the notes.”
Materialising the internal
Dodda has a wide palette of references ranging from the loosely strung avant-garde Visual Music movement of the 20th Century, through to the animated compositions of John Whitney. But as well as further developing existing ideas and methods, and carrying out her own original research, Dodda’s work is often conceived using personal elements.
“What I do as an artist is materialising internal experience,” she explains. “You can approach my work very formally, or sensorily, or personally. For example, ‘Étude Op. 88, No. 1.’ comes from a dream. I sensed that somebody had picked me up from earth and took me into a black space. There were fire opals there, growing in the darkness. They told me that these opals have frequencies. And then I woke up.”
The resulting animations, and the series of framed stills gleaned from them, form an intriguing entry point into Dodda’s audio-visual practise. Even though the ‘Variations’ exhibition has just opened, she’s already thinking ahead to her next show—a solo exhibition at the prestigious ARoS Museum in Aarhus, Denmark. “When it rains, it pours,” smiles Dodda, heading back to her studio, and her rich internal world.
See the show at BERG Contemporary until October 21.