Mark Prime’s art practice reveals a long-standing interest in the intersections between light, form, and sound patterns. Indeed, with Chroma the artist has now undertaken a trilogy of exhibitions exploring these themes. The large room-sized installation that makes up the new series pays particular attention to the manner in which two of these elements – sound frequencies and colour frequencies – operate on each other.
The exhibition title derives from an unusual neurological condition, Chromesethsia: the association of sounds with colours. The idea of seeing and hearing the world in sensory synergy is utterly fascinating to the artist.
Chroma is heard before it is seen: constantly fluctuating patterns of sound activate the walk to the installation (set in a neutral, open-plan building amid verdant Delhi-farm surroundings). On entering the space, and looking up at the double-height ceiling, nine circles of colour are formed from the rotation of coloured rods attached to fan motors that whip them around. Visitors are at once immersed in the installation and the connection of audio to light components.
The relationship between sound and colour is driven by the artist’s collaboration with Matthew Devenish, a musician and sound artist. The duo have assigned each colour with a particular note in the system of western musical notation. So, green, for example, is assigned the note ‘B’. Each colour is, then, playing back in two to three different octaves, but cycling over time. At moments, waves of sound come together, something the artist and his collaborator refer to as ‘colour bombs’. These colour bombs are sounds generated from a virtual synth version of an ‘Ondes martenot’ (an electronic instrument from the early 20 century) put through a granular pitch shift delay into a very long reverse reverb.
The effect of the rhythmic cycles and hypnotic repetition of sound and light is mesmerising, a union of many senses. Chroma is, in many ways, Prime’s most ambitious exhibition to date: an exploration into questions of how we go about the business of perceiving the world around us.
Chroma is on view at vis a vis, DLF Chattarpur Farm till 22 February, from 6pm -9:30pm.