Castello reimagined

Castello reimagined is a VJ performance with the baroque violinist Morag Johnston and Viola da gamba player Sarah Small.

This performance is a part of my bachelor thesis those visuals I have created. The visuals are the outcome of my research which investigates the  impressions and emotions of  the violinist Morag Johnston while she is playing the music piece  “Sonata Seconda à Soprano Solo” by Dario Castello.

Bachelor thesis at the HfK Bremen
Artistic Research
Research Product: VJ Performance / Visuals
Year: 2016
Contributors: Morag Johnston (Violine) and Sarah Small (Viola de gamba)
Tools: Adobe After Effect and GLMixer


I had the chance to meet the baroque violinist Morag who gave me new perspectives of how musicians work and see their world. Even though I was aware that music is a form of art, I finally understood that the music instrument is the musician’s artistic tool and the music they create is more than just a reproduction of a composer’s work. In other words, each musicians interpret differently the music sheets and plays in their artistic way.

Because of the new insights to a musicians’ world I wanted to create an artwork which support Morag in expressing her art. To be able to do this I needed to research what she sees or feels when she is playing and what she wants to express.

The musician's world and intepretation

I interviewed Morag twice. The first time I interviewed her to understand her background, her motivation and what she wants to communicate while she is playing. This interview could give me insights in her process which I have documented in the video below. 

The music piece

In the second interview, I let Morag choose a music piece to use as a basis for my artwork. The music piece she has chosen was “Sonata Seconda à Soprano Solo” by Dario Castello. It had some special meaning to her as this was one of the first baroque pieces she had learnt and it was according to her, a very exciting piece to play. She explained this piece as a process of a tragedy:

It’s definitely one whole story, it's like sadness and anger ... this piece is like, it’s like coming to terms ... it is like accepting something is bad. Maybe you have happy memories here and maybe you remember tender moments or something sad happend and you have to come to terms with it and sometimes there is anger, sometimes there is craziness like here, that’s basically what it is, something with bereavements...

During the interview, she walked me through the music piece and described her impression and feelings of different sections. In the end, she divided the whole piece into twelve sections with the following titles:

  1. Religious
  2. Conversation
  3. Grandmother’s death
  4. Foxes and chicken
  5. Fishes
  6. Nice Happy Walk
  7. Echo
  8. Organ Stop
  9. Dance Scene
  10. Craziness
  11. & 12 Totally sadness and acceptance

The outcome of the interview showed that there was nothing precise to visualize, no certain colours or story, instead her impressions were more bits and pieces of events or feeling she felt and wanted to express while playing.
Based on this, I wanted to create visuals that were more abstract but eventually support her impressions. Another reason for being more abstract was to not to be too distractive as too detailed graphics could change the focus from the music to the visuals. Moreover, my focus of the work was to have a symbiosis with media art and the music art.  Nevertheless, I use her impression as the basis for the visuals and created mood boards for each of her described sections.

Final Visualization

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