Sound designer and musician Kieran “Sherry” Sheridan takes a minimalist approach with “Movements,” featuring close-up footage of various rivers and streams paired with a soothing musical accompaniment. At two minutes, twenty-three seconds, the piece is short and sweet, a delightful vignette that invites viewers to step away from their daily cares, if only for a moment.
As the title suggests, the soft and subtle audio-visual follows the movements of water which Kieran filmed at several locations including a bridge underpass near his home in Rathmichael, a suburb of Dublin, Ireland. The sound designer made few video edits, using raw footage for the majority of the piece. With the shadowing water as the base of his piece, he then layered additional shots where the light shone directly over other nearby bodies of water, creating soft white highlights and textures. Kieran compared the illuminated ripples to the dance of fireflies or to “a musical performance in itself.”
From the time he was young, Kieran has enjoyed exploring woods and streams in his hometown. Alone and in a curious state of mind, he found himself watching and listening to what was around him – even when there were almost no sounds to be heard.
“The world is a very musical place,” says Kieran. “Maybe not in the traditional sense that people relate to music, but as I speak to you now, there’s a bird song going on, wind in the trees, and you could translate that to a guitar, or a piano, or a synthesizer, or whatever sound you see fit.”
Kieran will hear music, even when there is no sound at all. For him, visuals often stimulate a musical or sound response – this skill is in large how he makes his living as a sound designer and composer who has worked with major games, animation and film studios. “A lot of it has been deeply rooted in me,” says Kieran looking to his background as a musician. For years, he has established a name for himself as a skilled multi-instrumentalist and composer. With a collaborative partner, Kieran also spearheads “Chromatic,” a film and audio project that features one-shot performances of Irish talents using unique spaces as visual and acoustic backdrops. Movements is his solo debut under the name, Pink Letter.
Kieran admits the vignette’s footage provided a blueprint for the musical accompaniment. After he compiled the visuals, the sound designer played the footage on a screen and recorded a number of musical improvisations in real-time.
To capture the water’s dark composition, Kieran incorporated low sine wave chords as a musical foundation for the piece, while soft cymbals and melodic lines act as a counterpart for the light shimmering on the water. The track comes alive with airy, synthesized sounds, ambient water field recordings and a vibrating echo — feedback from delay pedals.
“The world is a very musical place.” – Kieran “Sherry” Sheridan
Some may enjoy the piece as they nod off to sleep. Others have recommended watching the vignette as a meditative practice. Regardless of the viewer’s activity preference, “Movements” is best if experienced from start to finish without interruption or distraction.
Fully immersing oneself in audio-visual art exhibits at galleries, or even from home can often have a profound effect on audiences.
“I’ve always liked being immersed in sound/visual installation art pieces, how they provoke you to step away from your current moment into a new space and feeling. ‘Movements’ is an effort at capturing my impulse response with sound to the visuals that I filmed,” Kieran said.
Pieces like “Movements” remind viewers to appreciate the natural wonders in their neighborhood, local parks or even their backyard. Such places can offer more than a picturesque retreat. For the attuned observer, there are ample opportunities for enjoyment and creativity in nature’s movements and in her stillness.
If you like “Movements,” check out Pink Letter’s latest musical collaboration with Mangetout, “Heterogamy.”
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Keep up with Kieran on Instagram @sherrygram.
Note: Kieran Sheridan is a blood relative of the author. His piece, “Movements,” was first mentioned in the Irish blog, Nialler9.