Amos Cochran - University of Houston
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Listen to Color Field Outside / In

Amos Cochran

(American, b. 1984)

  • Color Field Outside / In, 2019

Text Transcript: Color Field Outside / In

My name is Amos Cochran, and I created the audio piece Color Field Outside / In.

When I was approached about creating a sound element for the Color Field exhibition at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, I had never made anything of the like. My work had mainly consisted of film scoring and my own experimental music. I was quite intrigued by the opportunity to not only create a different kind of long-form piece, but how the presentation of the piece would be unique from anything I had done before. Knowing very little about Color Field as a style, I set off reading as much as I could about its history.

I quickly ran across Helen Frankenthaler's work and how until that point in history, color was not the main draw of emotion but rather a secondary thought that was directly tied to the object or objects in the work that acted as the emotional draw. I really liked the idea of stripping away an initial thought to let a secondary thought act as the emotional guide. This kind of abstraction is something I had been using in my music but had never put into specific terms.

So, if object is first, and color is second, in a correlating sound world, perhaps melody is first, and sound texture supporting the melody is second. We strip away object; therefore, we strip away melody, and we are left with sound texture representing color in the equation. I loved this idea and began to work on soundscapes that focused sound texture at the forefront. Having this concept was a wonderful guide opening up a completely new sound world that championed experimental sound layering with no expectation of melody. This work led to the five pieces that play together as a long form to make up Color Field Outside / In.

Soundscape, 24 minutes 47 seconds
Courtesy of the artist
Location: Wilhelmina’s Grove

Color Field Outside / In presents an auditory sensory experience that allows our emotions to wander freely in an immersive sonic dreamscape. Here, Cochran brings sound “textures” to the forefront, while positioning melodic phrases in the background, or distance. Abstract recorded sounds are paired with synthetic tones that have been mixed with traditional instruments such as violin, cello, harp, and piano.

Color Field Soundscape

Arkansas-based composer Amos Cochran has created an audio companion piece to Color Field that is inspired by Arkansas sunsets—such as the one captured by photographer William Eggleston in Arkansas(ca. 1965-68, pictured below)—, the Color Field movement, and Ozark forests.

William Eggleston, Arkansas, ca. 1965-68, dye-transfer print. © Eggleston Artistic Trust. Courtesy Eggleston Artistic Trust and David Zwirner.
William Eggleston, Arkansas, ca. 1965-68, dye-transfer print. © Eggleston Artistic Trust. Courtesy Eggleston Artistic Trust and David Zwirner.

In Outside / In, abstract sounds recorded in and around Crystal Bridges Museum of Art are paired with synthetic tones and traditional instruments. Cochran's work is meant to allow our emotions to wander in an immersive sonic dreamscape.

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