(once more on the idea of "translation" in the art).


Thesis "light-music is not a mere translation of audible information into visual one" does not need such heat arguments that were used against "analogists-translators" 30-40 years ago, when in the whole world the experiments in the field of light-music synthesis were being activated. But the simple reference to general theoretical proposition that aesthetical information cannot be "translated", is not enough too [1]. It is important to reveal the psychological and social sources of such widespread conviction in the possibility and necessity of "translation".

Not only ourselves, but any other experimentator, who ever performed light-music shows (as well as musical abstract films, computer multimedia animations) could observe the following paradox. Most of the spectators, including professional musicians, who saw light-music show for the first time, feel the real shock and displeasure while become knowing that light accompaniment is produced not by some miraclous "black box", but "simply" by man, performer. Accordingly, when light-music automatic devices are demonstrated, the feeling of admiration among the audience decreases to the extent of explanation of their functioning.

It is obvious, that the audience prefer to regard light-music as a miracle. This fact reflects in mass-media labels applied to the subject, such as "singing rainbow", "color music", "the art of shining sounds". One has a feeling of miracle when certain event apparently contradicts Homo Sapiens thesaurus. The most miraculous are infringements of basic physical laws, first of all, that of energy conservation. This is the true source of "magic" impression from "amplifier" which realises "desired miracle" of obtaining great results by imcomparable small efforts [2]. Among other prohibited phenomena one can note: spontaneous appearance and disappearance of the objects; metamorphosis (i.e. sudden change of object characteristics). The fairy tales often are based on such infringement of physical laws. Let's consider common fairy tale situation (taken from Russian folklore) as follows: "grey wolf struck himself against the ground and turned into Tsarevitch Ivan; or similar transformation of the frog into Beautiful Tsarevna. In each case the intermediate state lays beyond the grasp of mind, and this forms the core of fairy tale. The longing for miracle is probably inherent in human being. It is atavistic manifestation of permanent striving for information renewal, which exists in self-developing human culture system. The atrophy of this striving in every individual is equal to the victory of entropy, "information death".

Any attempt to explain the nature of intermediate state would kill the miracle. (For example, in the above cases one could refer to the fact of Paleozoic Amphibia gradual development into Beautiful Tsarevna of our era). In the same way the spectator at light-music performance resists at subconscious level to any explanations of the matter. (We call this subconscious resistance as "Tsarevna the Frog" complex). During the performance there occurs seemingly impossible instant transformation of two heterogeneous phenomena, and as if infringement of energy conservation law. (Probably, the spectator feels, at subconscious level, that amounts of power required to produce light and sound effects are incomparable). It is significant, that the illusion of "shihing sounds" can be achieved in the most bright form, when light and sound are synchronized automatically. The fact that "transformation" of sound into light occurs in this case "by itself", out of man's control, satisfies a desire to regard light-music device as inknowable "black box".

Light-music is not the only art which contains miracle in its primary layer. According to A.Bazin, photography is based on the miracle of "time mummification" which satisfies "mummy complex" (subconscious resistance to oblivion). Cinematograph - that miracle out of the miracles - is mummification of moving images and sound [3]. Radio and TV realize instant transportation of image and voice to any distance. As for ancient art of music, L.Mazel noticed: isn't it wonderful that from very limited sensory material "the miracle of beautiful and expressive instrumental composition" arises. (It is well known, that the greater part of information about the world is perceived by vision; and what is more, music does not include natural sounds and speech). Mazel also refers to "amplifier magic", according to A.Jeolkovsky [4].

But for above kinds of art their own miracles do not determine their specific character completely. There is only one artistic genre, circus, which made realization of miracles its primary content. Of course, in the development of each kind of art there were periods when the ecstasy from it's own miracle was quite enough. The primitive hunter stuck the spear into picture of bison; Pythagorean's magic of harmony was projected into the heaven; unexperienced spectator killed the actor-"villain" or shot into the screen. But such actions are connected with extra-aesthetical process of ontological identification of real and art phenomena. (According to L.Feuerbach, the art itself does not demand from the viewers to regard its manifestations as real objects).

The Soviet film director Eisenstein directed all pathos of his prominent manifesto on "talking cinema" against first attempts of that kind which were made with the only purpose to satisfy curiosity and therefore were no more then a display of "mummy complex". The same situation is observed in light-music. The main point of automatic and monosemantic "translation" of audible information into visual one exactly and solely lays in the dull exploitation of "shining sounds" miracle, simple satisfaction of curiosity.

The concept of compulsory automatization of the light-music synthesis appears to be very stable. The reason for that is genetically connected with the above "complexes", and have social nature. That is very high level of requirements to the technical equipment of a new art. It often results in "most of all burgeous inclinations of somebody, not being artists themselves, to fabricate art works by means of simple copying" (according to A.Basen). It was said about the relations between photography and painting, but concerns music/light-music relations as well. This way one might hope to obtain new aesthetic values as a result of automatical transformation of music into light, "from nothing" in fact. Of course, such attitudes say about either the absence of any regard to artist work or misunderstanding of its specific character. The expectation of such miracluous appearance of light-music exactly and solely "ex machina" can be explained by more common disease of "woship to machine". N.Wiener defined it as the striving "to shift off responsibility from man (who is less reliable) and put it on the device, which is supposedly inconceivable, but possesses the indisputable objectivity" [5]. Let's note that this striving is also of "bourgeois" nature.

When the purposes are unnatural, the methodology which is applied to achieve them, should be faulty as well. One of its basic premise we defined as "cheese" phenomenon. As M.Taube said, "the modelling of pound of cheese by pound weight in the balance does not mean the modelling of the cheese itself" [6]. (The remark was directed against the extremists in the field of thinking process computer simulation). Unlike the case of cheese, computer modelling of art is impossible in principle. Art, as a form of social consciousness, cannot be formalized "up to the end", and also cannot be reduced to physic, physiological or psychological processes. Next false premise is an unjustified assumption that sum of literal "translations" of separate parts would result in aesthetic valuable whole, adequate in some sense to the original. A thousand rabbits never make up one elephant. In the third, this methodology does not take into account the permanent semantic changes of expressive means in music and visual arts, which nullifies any attempts to search for some absolute and universal "translation" algorithm. And finally, even if somebody tries to achieve an adequacy of "translation" to "original", he would come into conflict nevertheless, because aesthetic information differs from semantic one, in particular by the appearance of unavoidable "interferences" in the process of its "encoding" or "decoding". That is the point by which aesthetical information differs from semantical one. Let this argument be the fourth nail in cover of the coffin, in which the idea of music-to-light translation should be buried at last. It would be fine if, just as in the well-known decree of Paris Academy on "perpetuum mobile", the ban will be put on consideration of any projects concerning monovariant "transformation of audible information into light one", as applied to new art.

Let's turn now to the genre of light accompaniment, which should "correspond" music to some extent. To use in this case the term "translation" is possible, but on condition - the requirement of monovariant correspondance should be excluded. As experience in poetry shows, in order to provide conformity between music and light accompaniment, one should seek after not the conformity of artistic means, but, first of all, the conformity of artistic effect (i.e. functional conformity). Naturally it allows practically infinite number of appropriate light accompaniments to the same musical composition. The most concrete and succesful rule in this case would be the following fine Heine's remark: "Translation resembles woman: if she's nice, she's infidel; if she's fidel, she's not nice". It's obvious for light-musician as well, in the field of his professional activity - as the result of objective evaluation of "Tsarevna the Frog" complex and "cheese" phenomenon.


  1. Moles A. Theorie de l'information et perception esthetique. - Paris, Flammarion, 1958.
  2. Jeolkovsky A.K. On the Aggravation. - In: "Structural and Typological Investigations". - Moscow: AN SSSR, 1962, p.169 [in Russian].
  3. Cited from Russian edition of: Bazin A. What Cinema Is? - Moscow: Iskusstvo, 1972, p.43 [in Russian].
  4. Mazel L. The Problems of Classical Harmony. - Moscow: Muzyka, 1972, p.44 [in Russian].
  5. Cited from Russian edition of: Wiener N. God and Golem, Inc. - Moscow: Progress, 1966, p.65. [in Russian].
  6. Cited from Russian edition of: Taube M. Computers and Common Sense: The Myth of Thinking Machine. - Moscow: Progress, 1964, p.77 [in Russian].

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