Saturday, August 15, 2009

Ideas Behind the Album 3: Wooden Books

A source of guidance in this project is the very focused yet illuminating work Symmetry, the Ordering Principle, by David Wade, part of the inspiring series Wooden Books. This series encompasses a vast array of knowledge, all the more remarkable that each book is only fifty eight pages, with invariably one page chapters followed by an illustration. Wade writes in his introduction:

Symmetry has a very wide appeal; it is of as much interest to mathematicians as it is to artists, and is as relevant to physics as it is to architecture. In fact, many other disciplines lay ther own claims on the subject, each having their own ideas of what symmetry is, or should be. Clearly, whatever approach is taken, we are dealing here with a universal principle, however, in our day-to-day experience conspicuous symmetries are comparatively rare and most are far from obvious. So what is symmetry? Are there general terms for it? Can it, indeed, be clearly defined at all?

On investigation, it soon becomes clear that the whole field is hedged about with paradox. To begin with, any notion of symmetry is completely entangled with that of asymmetry; we can scarcely conceive of the former without invoking thoughts of the latter (as with the related concepts of order and disorder) and there are other dualities. Symmetry precepts are always involved with categorization, with classification and observed regularities; in short, with limits. But in itself symmetry is unlimited; there is nowhere that its principles do not penetrate. In addition, symmetry principles are characterized by a quietude, a stillness that is somehow beyond the bustling world; yet, in one way or another, they are almost always involved with transformation, or disturbance, or movement.

The more deeply one investigates this subject the more apparent it becomes that this is at the same time one of the most mundane and extensive areas of study-but that, in the final analysis, it remains one of the most mysterious.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Ideas Behind the Album 2: Balance

When conceiving the album Symmetria, Uccello Project felt the urge to express the struggle to achieve balance in one's own life and actions, the microcosmic sense, and how this played into the achievement of balance on a macrocosmic level. The ancient Hermetic maxim states that which is above is like to that which is below, and that which is below is like to that which is above, and Uccello Project felt driven by this seemingly simple idea, subconsciously at the outset, then increasingly aware of what was happening as the music and art were unveiled.

The early influence of fantasy and sci-fi literature was also drawn upon, namely the Elric series of Michael Moorcock. Moorcock posits a multiverse of parallel realities, where heroes, or eternal champions, are used as pawns to fight on the ever shifting sands that comprise the balance between law and chaos. As a physically sickly emperor who nevertheless possesses great knowledge of sorcery, the antihero Elric drives himself away from his decadent, hyper evolved kingdom into the wider world, to experience life on the edge of reality. Elric begins by serving Arioch, the lord of chaos, but ends as a servant of law, and ulitmately, the great and mysterious cosmic balance. Uccello Project, in a sonic, visual, and even tactile sense, was dreamed as a vehicle, a body, to attempt in its own microcosmic way, to contribute to this striving for balance. It is partly a fantasy, but through fantasy, music is dreamed, sound is birthed, and from this sound, art flowers.

Other written works were a great inspiration along the way. In Harmonies Of Heaven And Earth, a book dedicated to exploring the profound and mysterious power of music, author Joscelyn Godwin writes,

"In the Li Chi, the ancient Chinese book of Rites whose compilation was begun by Confucius (551-487 B.C.) there is a long discourse on how music should be used in conjunction with ceremonies to bring civilization into a proper state of harmony and order. This is how the functions of the two are described:

Harmony is the thing principally sought in music. It therein follows Heaven, and manifests the expansive spiritual influence characteristic of it. Normal distinction is the thing aimed at in ceremonies. It therein follows Earth and exhibits the retractive spiritual influence characteristic in it.

Hence the sages made music in response to Heaven, and framed ceremonies in correspondence with Earth. Music, which derives from inner experience, and ceremonies, which are derived from observing the situation in the outer world, are seen as complimentary powers, as are their respective origins, Heaven and Earth. Music brings out in mankind the unity of purpose and of feeling, reflecting the perfect harmony of the heavens, without which civilization cannot stand; ceremonies assign everyone’s distinct place in the earthly hierarchy."