As I read Mitchell’s “Ekphrasis & the Other” I couldn’t help but mutter “duh.” Ekphrasis, which can be simply defined as a verbal representation of a visual, is a practice we students have been using since we learned how to write.
“Hw would you describe this flower?” a teacher may ask, to which we would responds, “It has red petals and a green stem.”
However, the more I read about ekphrasis and the more I began thinking about ekphrasis as a complication or a mixing of representations (image vs. language), I began to wonder what others mixings could be made to create a new perspective. Could I use dance to represent a body of text? What about painting to represent music?
Take for example “Burning Down the House” by Martin Klimas. In this piece of artwork, Klimas chose to visualize sound. More specifically, Klimas reinterpreted the music of Jimi Hendrix into a visual piece. This visual representation of music, called visual music art, is similar to ekphrasis, and how writers turn image into text.
The result of Klimas’s interpretation (in my opinion) is both striking and beautiful. It gives the viewer a whole new perspective on “Burning Down the House.”
Exploring visual music art helped me better appreciate ekphrasis. Ekphrasis is not just a retelling or a description of an image, it is a reimagination.