Experimenting with how music affects tone


I am interested in the way identity is influenced by environment- how our perception about a thing changes according to what that thing is next to.

For this experiment, I performed a crucifixion on a doll, and videotaped this. I then set the same video, at the same speed, to four vastly different musical backgrounds. I am working under the idea that the video holds inherent meaning, part of which will be more or less lost, and other parts which will be emphasized, depending on what music is played along with the images. I am seeing the music as a kind of window into how the viewer can “read” the video- similar to the way the title of a poem might inform the readers expectation of the content of the poem. I do not think there is anyway for the sound to not affect the image- because there is no such thing as not having sound. If a video is silent, that silence becomes a statement, and influences the viewer. Also, I assume that if a video has no music, then a viewer will more likely be more tuned into and perhaps distracted by sounds from the place he or she is watching the video- and that will be sounds I have no control over. Therefore, I am very interested in exploring what this and all my videos mean without any sound- what meaning they carry inherently- but I do feel compelled at this point to set my work to sound, as an attempt to control the environment in which the viewer is witnessing the images.

Here are the links to the videos that resulted from this experiment, and to a short description of the song and how I think that affects the video:



I first set the video to a classical version of Ave Maria, which I believe heightens the emotional melodrama of the scene- perhaps to an extent that reaches absurdity. It seems to me that this music gives the performance a great feeling of self-satisfaction; the project seems to be taking itself very seriously here, and is asking the viewer to get goose bumps. This may be effective if the viewer is indeed moved to an emotional reaction…but if the viewer is not then the music may seem a bit self-indulgent/overdramatic.


I then set the video to a meditation by Alan Watts on stilling the mind. In a way I think this one may be the most interesting combination, because it is perhaps an unlikely combination, but once I saw the video set to this it made a lot of sense in an unexpected way to me. I feel like it is the most subtle of all the combinations, which I appreciate, as it does not deal with religious issues directly, but does deal with issues of spirituality, which are tangled up in notions about religion in a way. I like how this sound for this video is on recognizing the ego- but not calling it sin- and working through that, as a kind of redemption, but the savior is not someone else, but the self.


“Crooked Young” by Bring Me the Horizon- emphasizes the sacreligious element, and brings in a lot of anger at religion that is not necessarily overtly present with the other music:


“We Want Cunt” by Jeffree Star- makes the whole thing more playful and fabulous and fun. It seems to me that this song turns the whole process into a sort of joke, although I hope an intelligently crafted joke. It is not only the controversial lyrics that made this song an interesting choice to me, but also Jeffree Star’s personality and persona as a famous gender transgressor carry a lot of weight and are unescapable to me in this version…What does it mean for the voice of a celebrity whose image is based on defying social scripts as well as on glorifying shallow beauty to be placed against a film of a crucified doll?…I will continue to think about this.


The most difficult part about this experiment for me was suppressing my desire to change the pace of the video to match the pace of the song it was placed next-to. I had a strong urge to make the video faster to correspond with faster music, and wanted to add more cuts to make the effect more dizzying to match the last two songs. However, I wanted to work with isolating the factors that make up how a viewer perceives a video/performance, and therefore kept everything the same except the music.

In the future, I would like to experiment with keeping the factor of music the same, and changing only the pace of the video, and seeing how this affects the experience.




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