Graphic design professor Laura Scholl blends light and music with WSU Impulse Percussion

Oct 27, 2016
scholl in front of movies poster

Laura Scholl, assistant professor of graphic design and digital art, is collaborating with Wichita State University’s (WSU) Impulse Percussion Group. This collaboration takes advantage of her digital art and computer graphics specialty in lighting with live percussive music to create a moving, pulsing work of fine art. The concert will be at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 13 at Miller Concert Hall on the WSU campus.

This concert coincides with the “Coded Couture” exhibit—infusing coding and fashion—sponsored by the Ulrich Museum of Art.

Conducting the percussion group is Scholl’s brother Jerry Scholl, associate professor of percussion. A collaboration between the two siblings has been in the making for the past 10 years. Finally, they are getting their chance to combine their two passions in one cohesive performance.

Scholl expressed, “Without light, we don’t see anything. Light brings things to life. To me it represents the light of consciousness; the works have a sense of purity, and this is what compels me to work with light.”

Scholl uses LED and fiber optics to interact in real time with the sounds and changes in Jerry Scholl’s arrangement of Eric Whitaker’s “Sleep.” There will also be a second piece where a projected, interactive image will dynamically move with the music.

Scholl wrote computer programs and downloaded them to microprocessors to achieve the technical aspects of having the visuals, in effect, listen to the music. This will not be apparent to the audience, who Scholl hopes will come to relax and forget the busyness of everyday life: “These pieces will be meditative. I want the audience to be present, in the moment, and experience the music with the visuals bringing them into a state of focus and delight.”

Not only are Scholl’s visuals meant to captivate, the collaboration is meant to be a seamless blend of sight and sound, something she learned during her many years in the feature film industry.

“Harry Potter,” “The Fifth Element,” and the Academy Award-winning animated short film “The ChubbChubbs” are films Scholl has worked on and are only a fraction of her oeuvre. She said, “My own personal artwork has always been about light; even in the films I worked on I had that luxury. It follows that these abstract works combining code, LEDs, electronics, and fiber optics express light in today’s technological world.”

When working on big-budget Hollywood films, she said, there were always executives and others to satisfy. With this presentation, she is excited to be completely in control of her work and present purely her own vision.