The Sound of the Brush

The Stroke of the Idea, in Sound, Found.

When I was in Seoul, looking at, and working on Korean retail design, I stopped and watched a street calligrapher, who was writing phrases on newspaper. In the midst of the noise and flurry of the streetscape, I stood and watched him — and listened.

I could hear the draw of the horsehair on the rough stock of the wrinkled paper.

In the sensation of writing, there is a deeper holism of sensation. Speaking to a group of students, I talked about the idea of translation, interpretation, illustration as a layering of a more engage and enlarged sensation of experience.
Translation — a movement, from one place to another, a bearing, a carrying.
Interpretation — an explaining, an understanding. And a spreading…
Illustration is something different, to translation and transformation — it moves from one context to another, it, too, is a carrying; but more so, it is a shining. Illustration finds the light
and makes it brighter.

In a manner, like our metaphors of branding — the light, the fire, that lies in the center of enterprise. But each of these words tells a story that is deeper; it’s a run into a physical place that is ignited by a psychic space. These ancient words carry more to the holism of how feeling and emotional response are evinced.

In contemplating the craft of the hand, and mind, in meaning, memory and sensate experience, the idea of the sense of deepening — sound, scent, touch, taste, sight, it’s all about the layering of how people sensually connect with the whole of being — and the binding to memory. I linked to a friend, an artist — Nancy Coleman — that referenced this in a note about her memory of a profound moment, unforgettable for her.
And now, me.
She wrote:

“A couple of years ago I went to Artomatic just outside of DC — do you know this event? A nonprofit organization finds empty buildings and organizes a community art show, giving artists of all types and talents a lot of space to put up their works. It is, altogether, amazing. The event I went to had 8 floors of art in a building destined to be razed, and one of my favorite installations was still being created. (photo below) I talked to the artist and he told me it was a poem for peace. He was alone completely in this floor, painting away in silence. It was very moving.”
The Sound of the Brush
photograph by Nancy Coleman

When she wrote that, instantly I thought of the sound, and the scent of the pigment and the emotional wash, rolling over, those memories — street side, Seoul.

Still, that holism is unforgettable. The most powerful experiences we have are intrinsically emotional – therein lies the power of our memory of these references; they are whole, they are deep. And they last as long as we live.