Blood Pressure Experiments

Continuing my research on whether music affects heart rates and blood pressure, I found some volunteers in my university library in order to conduct more experiments.




Camara, an animation student, had a blood pressure on arrival of 127/85, pulse, 103. He chose the soothing sounds of Spirited Away by The Sixth Station which is the soundtrack to the Japanese film “Spirited Away.” Post song, his blood pressure was 139/68, pulse, 90. His systolic pressure increased, while his diastolic pressure decreased.  His pulse decreased significantly.

For the fast song, Camara chose “Sweatpants” by Childish Gambino, a rap song. Post song, his blood pressure was 129/69, and pulse 98.



Rafi, also an animation student, had a blood pressure of 114/80 and a pulse rate of 84 on arrival. Rafi chose the soothing song “The Animation Ending” by Ping Pong. Post song, his blood pressure was 135/81 and his pulse was 82. His systolic pressure went up in addition to his diastolic pressure, while his pulse decreased.

Rafi chose the fast song, ” GTA” by Red Lips featuring Sam Bruno (Skrillex remix) to listen to after the soothing song. After listening to this fast song his blood pressure increased considerably to 163/141 and his pulse increased to 91.


Lucy, a design management and culture student from Slovakia  before commencing the experiment had a blood pressure of 101/62 and pulse 74. The slow song she chose was Ludovico Einaudi, and the song was called “Tu Sei.” After listening to this soothing song her blood pressure decreased to 97/58 and her pulse had increased slightly to 75.

The fast song she chose to listen to was “Psycho” by Muse from the album, “Drones.” After listening to Muse, her blood pressure decreased to 96/57 and her pulse had increased to 80.



Anastasia, a Russian student from St Petersburg  studying public relations her blood pressure was 115/76, pulse, 91. She chose as her slow song “She walks in beauty” by Mychael Danna. Post song, her blood pressure had decreased significantly to 108/65, and her pulse had also decreased to 85.


The fast song she listened to after this was “Right Hand Man” from the Broadway Musical “Hamilton”. Post song her blood pressure had increased significantly to 113/73 and her pulse had also increased to 88.

Dr Iris Garrelfs kindly volunteered to take part in this experiment, which I conducted in her study. On arrival, Dr Garrelfs’s blood pressure was 117/89 and her pulse was 79. She chose as her soothing music “Dorme” by Jordi Saban, a seventeenth century piece of Baroque music. After listening to this track, her systolic pressure had increased to 113/84 which meant that her diastolic pressure had increased slightly. Her pulse dropped to 76.

For her fast track, Dr Garrelfs chose ” Bossa Trez” a piece of latin music after which her blood pressure was 115/83 and her pulse was 74. The music she listened to was played through loudspeakers.











John Cage Water Colours and The Royal Academy


watercolours jc

(John Cage, Ryoanji)

I visited the Royal Academy’s exhibition ” Painting of the Modern Garden.” In this exhibition there were displays of french painters who painted images of flowers and nature. The vibrant colours, the impressionistic style of dots scattering the canvas, and the serenity of the images in this exhibit certainly portrayed an idyllic ambience and something which was visually beautiful and relaxing. When I looked at these paintings, I was reminded of John Cage’s watercolours for his work “R=Ryoanji”, a painting inspired from a Zen garden in Kyoto whereby Cage drew around rocks placed in the garden. The paintings in the Royal Academy reflected the contemplative nature which Cage essayed to capture in his “R=Ryoanji”, which is a principle of Zen, a school of thought which Cage followed. Although Cage’s painting was minimalistic which contrasts the impressionistic style of the paintings in the Royal Academy, Cage and the French painters in the exhibition perfectly displayed the meditative element of nature, visually attaining the slowness of life and its beauty.








I Ching

I asked the I Ching, “what will help me succeed this week?”

Cast Hexagram:
51 – Fifty-One
Chên / Thunder
Thunder echoes upon Thunder, commanding reverence for its father Heaven:
In awe of Heaven’s majestic power, the Superior Person looks within and sets his life in order.
Thunder mingles with startled screams of terror for a hundred miles around.
As the people nervously laugh at their own fright, the devout presents the sacrificial chalice with nary a drop of wine spilt.


A thunderbolt of Cosmic judgement crashes to earth.
For the common person, it’s just a momentary fright soon forgotten, its warning unfathomed and unheeded.
But to one who understands its significance, this thunder is a signal to repent.
Centering the Self, seeking balance, the enlightened person will respect and align himself with this Higher Power, while his fellows remain subject to the whims of every passing storm.

Fountain, Marcel Duchamp


Marcel Du Champ was a French artist, and one of Cage’s contemporaries. He is famous for his “readymades”, which are objects which he finds and then calls them objets d’art. His most famous readymade is “Fountain”, a urinal which he submitted to A Society of Independent Artists, in New York 1917. I came across a mock up of this piece of art in The London Art Fair.  I found this mock up extremely interesting as it posed several questions, such as- does it still stand as a piece of art since it is no longer placed in a gallery? And could it still exist in its own as an  objet d’art despite the fact that it is not the original piece?

“Fountain” was a highly modern art work, made in a time where public lavatories only recently came out. Therefore this work could be said to be viewed as something exotic and ahead of its time. Although it is a masculine object, the piece’s shape and its curves seem feminine and can be likened to Duchamp’s works which depicted femininity. Some people saw the shape as being like that of a woman with her head covered, while others are reminded of an erect penis and testicles.

The concept of “Fountain” was laughed at by critics and was seen as obscene, especially toward women.   They dismissed it as an art work, Another artwork which received the same reception is the canner faeces of Pierre Manzoni which now belongs in The Tate Modern. This artwork is equally rude and can be aligned with Duchamp’s “readymades.”

In some ways we may link “Fountain” to Cage’s “4’33″”  since it relies on being in an art setting in order to be though of as a piece of art, otherwise it would just exist as an ordinary, everyday object which is not looked at. 4’33” also works in this manner, since were it to be performed outside the concert hall, the audience would think nothing of it but simply pass it off as silence or the menial background/environment noise which we are used to hearing on a daily basis, and thus the work would lose its identity as a piece of art. My experience of the mock-up of “Fountain” in the London Art Fair, provokes this question, since the piece was not set in a gallery, although it invited an audience to view it in a subjective manner.  Moreover, the fact that it was not the actual “Fountain” also challenges the idea of it being an art work since it loses its authenticity – could it be viewed as yet another readymade? Or does it function simply as a plagiarism, a copy of an art work which alone cannot be viewed as a piece of art?

In the same way, “Fountain” and “4’33″” were laughed at by critics at first, opining that it seemed to be just a strange joke in the art world, yet later gained critical acclaim and managed to gain  their places in the art world as distinguished pieces of art. “Fountain” was mocked at by its first audience, while “4’33″” received bad public attention in the Taking Woodstock festival where many people thought it to be a practical joke and walked out.

















Man Ray: “Dust Breeding” and purity

Through my study of Cage, in relation to his piece 4’33” I found an artist who also explores notions of emptiness and purity yet fails to realize these ideas in a piece of work, owing to environmental factors. This artist is Man Ray, a painter and  contemporary of Cage who worked in collaboration with another of Cage’s influencers, Marcel Duchamp while forming the piece entitled “Dust Breeding.” Like Cage’s 4’33” and Rauschenberg’s “White Paintings”, “Dust Breeding” conveys how a completely empty, blank surface cannot exist, this time, not owing to shadows such as in “White Paintings” nor the environmental noise in 4’33” which disturbs the piece’s silence and concept of purity, but because of the collection of dust brought  onto and accumulated on a pane of glass,  from the exterior world.

The artwork, “Dust Breeding” was created in 1920. The original piece of work was formed by Marcel Duchamp: it was a piece of glass laid out in public, entitled “The Large Glass.” Duchamp left the piece outside and waited for it to collect a years worth of dust, after which the photographer and painter, Man Ray photographed it and formed a document out of the photo which he called “Dust Breeding.”  After the photograph was taken, Duchamp wiped the work clean of the dust.

The piece in question is analagous to my vision of my major project ” Hall of Mirrors” as it portrays how a blank surface can never exist because of the dust brought from outside which collect on the glass and thus become a part of it , thus cohering with my concept of mirrors which, like Cage’s 4’33”,  fail to express a silence which is this time visual and also purity because of our environment.  We could argue that environment plays a crucial feature in our aesthetic experience whether that be in a gallery or a concert hall.

In some ways we can relate “Dust Breeding” and my major project even closer to 4’33” when we consider other critics’ ideas about environment being a disturbing factor. Salome Voeglin in “Toward a Philosophy of Sound Art” argues that noise is any noise which is disturbing, and if we enjoy the noise we can experience it as music rather than simply a “nuisance.” Therefore we could understand from this that if something is aesthetically pleasing from our environment, we can conceptualise it into a piece of work. It is therefore up to the listener or the viewer to ascertain what can be viewed as an artwork.

This strand of thought applies very much to Postmodern philosophy in the arts field, whereby the listener or viewer of the artwork is made to be the focal point of the work in question. Such an idea is echoed in Duchamp theory, ” The Creative Act” written about in 1959 where he states in his conclusion that ” the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualifications.” Hence we could observe that the viewer of a piece of art, such as Dust Breedings or  4’33” or White Paintings puts the piece of work under its subjective scrutiny, like a camera does over its subject, in order to formulate a piece of art work.

It would be interesting to compare whether  Duchamp’s work ” The Large Glass” could be viewed as an art work before or after the dust bred on the piece’s a surface.  Perhaps we could view the cleaning of the glass after a year, by Duchamp, as a signal that the art work was being revitalised and contextualised once more as an objet d’art, or on the other hand it might be possible that once the glass is cleaned it is naked, bereft of its other counterparts and thus can no longer function as an art work. In the context of 4’33” if its environmental factors were divorced from the piece, could the work still exist as a piece of sound art, or does it cease to exist once there is no longer the sound of the rain or wind on the window pane and the noises which the audience make?  It may be useful here to refer back to Cage’s first experience in Blackmountain college which led Cage to create 4’33” – when in an anechoic chamber where he desired to hear pure silence (and thought he would owing to the fact that the chamber had completely sound proofed walls and was empty) he failed to attain this experience since he could still hear his circulatory system in motion. Therefore, this analogy, linked with my discussion of 4’33” and “Dust Breeding” begs the fundamental question – to what extent does our environment play on our aesthetic and artistic experiences, and how does it add to  or take away assets of an art work – emotionally, visually, and generally  aesthetically? Without environmental factors could the art work still stand or would we able to experience a complete tabula rasa?

These are questions which I aim to explore during my creative journey involving my hall of mirror project. I feel that in my film about mirrors I have portrayed some of these concepts through the symbolism of reflections in the mirrors which show how our environment affects, and perhaps, depletes purity, and I have also captured the emptiness and objectivity of mirrors by filming them alone for the first part of the film. I will essay to continue understanding abstract notions of emptiness and purity by learning more about the critical reception of 4’33” ,  discovering more about minimalism in art and looking at other artworks.


Dust Breeding, Man Ray, 1920





























Tate Britain: Susan Phillipsz

I visited  Tate Britain to go to the exhibition by Susan Phillipsz. This artist is Scottish but based in Berlin. A lot of her work explores themes of longing, loss, hope and return. The show which I just saw is called “War Damaged Musical Instruments.” It is a sound installation which  has different speakers spread out hanging on the wall in a room all playing military songs. The recordings are collected from a collection of instruments, brass and wind, yet the notes are fragmented so that it is impossible to ascertain what song they are playing and in addition to this, these instruments were damaged during the war period. Phillipsz selected horns from the collection of instruments. She was intrigued by the question of who played the horns before, during the war. Although the sounds emanating from the speakers are fragmented, however, the instruments are actually playing the song “The Last Post” which is a song established to signal to soldiers that they can return to base and nowadays is used in military funerals and Remembrance ceremonies.


(A bugle from 1945)

The sound installation is simple: many speakers are hung each playing  discordant notes at different times in the hall of Tate Britain. As one walks through the hall they can hear the different notes of the military bugle, becoming enveloped in a gauze of notes. The atmosphere created by the speakers is mysterious – the selection of notes do not seem to cohere with one another yet they do not clash either as they are played at differing times- thus establishing something minimalistic and dreamy, yet  failing to create a melody or one complete whole.  This exhibition conveys how concepts of war can be translated into music, and the fact that the instruments creating this music were ruined due to the war creates a sense of antiquity and expresses the idea of time passing and combat. When I visited this exhibition, I was reminded of a show by the artist Katja Strunz which I saw  in the Camden Arts Centre in 2009. Strunz collected found instruments amongst other objects such as candlesticks, ashtrays and bells and put them on display as an exhibition. These objects, like the instruments of Susan Phillipsz,  similarly portray the weathering of time and summon up the idea of how objects can be linked to history and memory.

A brief video detailing the purpose of Phillipsz’s current exhibition at the Tate Britain can be viewed here:

This is a video I tool whilst in the gallery – it is the hallway of speakers projecting a military bugle:










During the research for my dissertation I came across the artistic movement, “The Fluxus Movement” in which Cage was a part of. This was an avant-garde movement which aimed to meld art into life, and create anti art- institutions. The members of this movement included Yoko Ono, Toshi Ichiyanagi, George Maciunas and Nam June Paik.

I have been very interested in the work of Nam June Paik (1936-2006)  after coming across this information about the Fluxus Movement. In particular, I am inspired by his piece “Robot K-456” which was a manmade robot which was constructed out of television screens in 1964.  In one event, Nam June Paik made the robot cross Madison avenue and it was hit by a car on the road and fell. This staged event led to Paik’s claim that there was a “catastrophe of technology in the twentieth century,” stating that the lesson to be gained from these tentative technological steps is that “we are learning to cope with it.”

I really like this piece as it is extremely ahead of its time, created in the sixties before technology had advanced. The staged event is playful and creative- Nam June Paik seems to be singing a zen sutra as he moves Robot k-456 across the road. The sculpture seems fragile and complex. It seems to be a statement on urban living, portraying how our world is a technological one which we are not yet able to understand or live peacefully in.



(Robot K456, Nam June Paik 1964)