Given that William Hogarth has been dead for 250 years (1697 – 1764), it was bit startling to receive an email from him. For the record, he was announcing a sound installation that’s part of the ‘gap in the air; a festival of sonic art’ being held in Edinburgh (Nov. 15, 2014 – Feb. 14, 2015).
Hogarth’s (or the artists’ group known as ‘Disinformation’) installation is presenting (from the Feb. 6, 2014 email announcement),
“The Analysis of Beauty” by Disinformation
Talbot Rice Gallery
The University of Edinburgh
Edinburgh EH8 9YL
0131 650 2210
Reception + preview 12.30 (lunch-time) 15 Nov 2014
Sound installation 15 to 29 Nov 2014
“The eye hath this sort of enjoyment in winding walks, and serpentine rivers, and all sorts of objects, whose forms, as we shall see hereafter, are composed principally of what I call the waving and serpentine lines. Intricacy in form, therefore, I shall define to be that peculiarity in the lines, which compose it, that leads the eye a wanton kind of chace, and from the pleasure that gives the mind, intitles it to the name of beautiful…” William Hogarth “The Analysis of Beauty” 1753
In 1753 the Georgian artist William Hogarth self-published his magnum-opus, “The Analysis of Beauty” – the book in which Hogarth expounded an aesthetic system based on analysing the virtues of the Serpentine, S-shaped, waving and snake-like lines. The Serpentine Line that William Hogarth discussed is identical to what modern nomenclature refers to as the sine-wave – the mathematical function whose geometry finds physical expression in oscillatory motion of musical strings, in pure musical notes, and in many phenomena of engineering, physics and communications science, signal processing and information technology.
In context of the architect William Playfair’s design for the Georgian Gallery at Talbot Rice, sonic and visual arts project Disinformation presents a minutely-tuned assemblage of pure musical sine-waves, which extend and extrapolate the visual aesthetics of Hogarth’s analyses, manifesting throughout the Georgian Gallery as a gently-hypnotic, immersive and dream-like sound-world. The installation is created using signals from laboratory oscillators, which manifest in-situ as standing-waves (the audio equivalent of stationary pond-ripples), through which visitors move as they explore and interact with the architectural acoustics of the exhibition space.
Here’s a video featuring a version of Disinformation’s ‘Analysis of Beauty’,
The Nov. 6, 2014 email announcement describes some of what you may have seen (if you’ve watched the video) and gives a summarized history for this installation,
“The Analysis of Beauty” sound installation is accompanied at Talbot Rice by the video of the same name, in which musical sine-waves are fed into and displayed on the screen of a laboratory oscilloscope. These signals visually manifest as a slowly rotating rope-like pattern of phosphorescent green lines, strongly reminiscent of the geometry of DNA. This earliest version of “The Analysis of Beauty” installation was exhibited at Kettle’s Yard gallery in Cambridge, in 2000, where the Disinformation exhibit was set-up alongside works by Umberto Eco, Marc Quinn and the artist project Art & Language, and directly alongside one of Francis Crick & James Watson’s earliest working-models of DNA.
Joe Banks offers a more comprehensive history in a post titled “Disinformation and “The Analysis of Beauty” A Project History“on the slashseconds.org website,
“The Analysis of Beauty” is an optokinetic sound and light installation, created by the art project Disinformation1 , which takes its title from the book of the same name written by the painter, engraver and satyrist William Hogarth in 1753. The installation was conceived in December 1999 and first exhibited in January 2000, in the “Noise” exhibition at Kettle’s Yard gallery (curated by Adam Lowe and by the Cambridge historian of science Professor Simon Schaffer)2 . “The Analysis of Beauty” was exhibited alongside work by artists Marc Quinn and Art and Language, semiotician and author Umberto Eco, and the Elizabethan polymath (mathematician, astronomer, geographer and occultist) John Dee. On account of the (subjective, but strong) similarity between the imagery produced by this installation and DNA, this work was (recent controversies notwithstanding) exhibited at Kettle’s Yard directly opposite one of Francis Crick and James Watson’s original models of DNA.
The entry does not appear to have been updated since 2007 at the latest.
Coincidentally or not, I received a Nov. 8, 2014 email announcement about an installation in Rennes (France) by an artist who seems to be associated with the ‘Disinformation’ group,
“Babylone Electrifiée” Joshua Bonnetta + Disinformation
Exhibition continues until 22 Nov 2014
Le Bon Accueil – Lieu d’Art Contemporain
74 Canal Saint-Martin
The “Babylone Electrifiée” exhibition (image below) features “The Analysis of Beauty”, “National Grid” and “Blackout” (Sound Mirrors) by Disinformation, plus “Strange Lines & Distances” by Joshua Bonnetta
Here’ s the image,You can find out more about
the ‘gap in the air: a festival of sonic art’ here
University of Edinburgh’s Talbot Rice Gallery exhibitions here
Le Bon Accuei exhibitions here
Joshua Bonnetta here
Happy Listening! And, to whomever came up with the idea of emails from William Hogarth, Bravo!