How To Enrich Visual Art With Audio Elements

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by Lucy Chambers
JAM Contributing Writer

Keith Salmon is a landscape painter from Scotland and he does moody landscapes with pastel and paint. His vision has deteriorated over the years. His weakening eyesight has prompted him to adapt his artistic style by adding audio elements to his art installations, thanks to a little help from Microsoft. His art installation, “The Oregon Project,” utilizes an array of soundtracks and overhead speakers. Any artist who wishes to use audio to boost the appeal and resonance of art should choose a sound that evokes meaning and select suitable sound equipment.

Choose sound that evokes meaning

To create an art display with more power and impact, an artist must add sound that enhances the mood and feel of an individual piece of art, or series of works. It’s important to choose sound that evokes appropriate emotions. Landscapes will be enhanced by nature soundtracks, or music made with old-fashioned instruments (pipes or drums, for example). Contemporary art with an avant-garde or industrial vibe will be enhanced by sound from synthesizers and/or digital drum machines, or by recordings of sounds of the city or industrial processes. Match the sound to the art to intensify mood.

Which sound equipment is suitable?

Audio interfaces which help artists to improve the sound quality of computers and expand the sound capabilities of computers are smart purchases. Speakers with ultrasonic, parametric performance are also popular choices for art installations, as they give artists the power to project sounds onto an array of surfaces. For example, these speakers may be used to make it seem like the sound is coming directly from sculptures. Keith Salmon chose overhead speakers to transmit sound during his art exhibit. According to, the space that an artist uses to exhibit art, should be considered before an audio setup is created. Some artists utilize old-fashioned audio equipment, such as older radio and cassette players, because they offer visual appeal and are prized by collectors.

Test out a sound system carefully

Artists will need to control sounds in specific environments, such as galleries or showrooms, and this is sometimes tricky. Artists should test out sound systems carefully before they use them. In other words, if an exhibition is planned, an artist should spend some time setting up the system, trying it out and tweaking it (if needed) before welcoming the public. Sound does add depth and meaning to visual art. It’s another way to reach the hearts and minds of art fans.

Lucy Chambers is a professional freelance writer with many years experience across a variety of sectors. She made the move to freelancing from a stressful corporate job, and loves the work-life balance it offers her.

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