Dr. Tia Vellani is a professional artist with a background in science and a lifelong love of music. She creates art from music and music from art. She lived in Canada and the USA and is now based in Kilkenny, Ireland.
My driving force is wonder. I feel a restless need to understand everything, so I am constantly shuffling facts and ideas trying to make them all fit together. The artist in me loves finding questions and the scientist, answers. So while my work appears to focus on evolution, music and the elements of visual art, it is driven by my love of discovery and of inventing unusual analogies as a way of exploring the universe.
I am haunted by the beauty of harmony, be it the harmony of music, living systems, or the laws of physics. Most of my ecstatic moments have come from singing and playing music. I often wondered about the ability of music to evoke such profound emotions, but when I started looking for explanations, starting with the book, "Music, the Brain, and Ecstasy," in the 1990's, what I discovered was that nobody knew! The question remains a mystery even with more recent explorations, such as Elena Mannes' film, the Music Instinct. Once we learned how to make music and art, more than 50,000 years ago, we never stopped; the benefits must be potent and seem to be linked to our survival as a species. The most plausible explanation is that the Arts bring us together and promote social bonding, which makes us stronger as a group. United, we stand.
"Union" was a site-specific installation I created during a residency in Sardinia in 2018. It included sculptures of fantasy musical instruments that were playable by multiple players simultaneously. I both played and gave viewers the opportunity to play, hence the work embraced visual art, music, performance, social practice and scientific ideas. Union is the most socially relevant of my projects. I would like to develop the concept and eventually build a musical instrument park, though not within the scope of this proposal.
From my work in science, I learned to appreciate the power of analogy in pushing knowledge forward. With this in mind, I create analogies between music and visual art. I have been "translating" between the 2 languages, creating visual interpretations of music since 2014 and interpreting visual art as music since 2018.
I express music with digital animation (Rose Red), painting (Over Time), graphic image (Samara), tapestry (Bach Inventio 13) and installation (29 to Wood Green). The purpose is to illuminate the architecture of music by revealing patterns that are more easily seen than heard and to gain insight into the technical wizardry of the composers.
I create musical interpretations of visual art to reveal the flow and pacing, to hear how a painting or sculpture is being read, and to highlight features such as layers (Cross Sections through the Wren Dimension), shape (Path through the Hills of Light), texture (Mesh), and rhythm (Pink).
The most recent incarnations of the music/art analogy idea are collaborations in which other artists and I interpret each others music as art and art as music sequentially and repeatedly (Contained Mesh; Espresso Shot).
Another project was "Evolutionary Music," designed to research the potential of mutation and natural selection (the gearbox behind evolution) as an analogy for musical composition. Luke Cissell and I wrote the piano piece, Mutatis Mutandis, using this process.
My creative projects draw on my understanding of science and music as much as they do on visual art. Each field has contributed to my self-definition at various stages in my life. Having integrated all 3 into my practice, my work reflects a truly authentic expression of my passions, core values and ideology.
-Tia Vellani, 2019