Sound Vision: patterns of vibration in sound, symbols and the body : a thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the Master of Design, Institute of Communication Design, Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand

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Historical and contemporary views such as those held within Buddhist and Hindu religion support the idea that sound, colour and form in motion have the ability to alter physiological and psychological aspects of human function. Within these, religions, distinctive singing and meditation techniques can be used to aid concentration, calm and balance the mind, and soothe the body. A meditative technique adopted by Hindu and Buddhist practitioners is to draw the mind into a centred point of focus, blocking out external distractions that inhibit concentration. The sound based meditation Om, for example, is a most powerful mantra, capable of healing and elevating consciousness (Beck, 1995). Vocal sounding and chant as well as gazing at or visualising images are techniques that have been utilised in ancient religious practice to aid people to develop their natural capabilities to shift energy within body and mind. Contemporary neuroscientists are interested in the states of mind that Buddhist monks claim to enter into while sounding. Equipped with technology for analysing brainwave activity, experiments have revealed that electromagnetic stimuli such as sound, light and colour can have physical affect upon the practitioner’s brain. Researchers have developed new therapeutic tools and techniques to benefit the health and well-being of individuals from these findings. This thesis traces the therapeutic use of sound, light, colour and form in motion from ancient Hindu and Buddhist religion into its use in complementary therapy. Sound Vision is the name of the film which fulfils the practical component of this research. Inspired by the visual form and motion of sound, this thesis contemplates: if we could see sound, what would it look like and could those images function as a healing art form? Sound Vision translates ancient and contemporary techniques of therapy into a digital audio/visual medium to function as visual therapy and aid for meditation. The themes of this research are foremost to visualise sound and secondly to deduce aspects of sound and vision that have therapeutic qualities. Chapter Three of this thesis thematically outlines qualities of sound that have been found to be capable of exciting or calming its listener. The same process has been applied for vision, specifically how light and colour affect the viewer as well as for form in motion. An interim presentation of the preliminary film, Dance of Light, was exhibited in November 2008 and here formative feedback was gained through unobtrusive observation and discussions with viewers toward the development of Sound Vision. Aspects of the film were found to provoke feelings of unease and tension while other aspects incited focus and calm. Sound Vision, serves as a prototype apply healing using light therapy to create positive physical and psychological outcomes. From the research presented within this thesis, Sound Vision employs various digital methods and techniques which are recognised with ability towards healing. Explorations to further this thesis’ research may include Neurological brainwave analysis and patient testing to determine which kinds of video footage produce particular desirable results.
Audio/visual therapy, Meditation, Physiological effects, Psychological effects