Music in Motion

| 17 Feb 2015 | 01:10

Paul Morin takes gallery visitors on a trip through time with music and sound

Upper East Side Artist Paul Morin finds inspiration in everyday elements that some might walk right by, or, in the case of his latest exhibition, walk into.

The 31-year-old composer, painter and pianist often fuses music with visual art, and his solo exhibition, "Static and Moving Images" at Spectrum, a performance space and multimedia gallery on Ludlow Street, features 10 of his abstract, geometric paintings alongside an interactive light machine constructed from salvaged elevator numbers, lights and stainless steel doors. The multi-colored lights and red floor numbers in "Elevator Time Machine," respond to music and illuminate in rapid clockwise motions when the piece's microphone picks up sound. The piece, which Morin created with the help of an electrical engineer, took three years to complete.

"It has a sort of element of moving on, in life as we do," Morin said as he drank a cup of coffee on his couch in his East 83rd Street apartment, which he shares with his wife and their black cat, He-Man. "We have no choice but to go forward. I've thought a lot about that very simple concept in life?it's steady time travel. We can't go backwards, as much as we want to."

Neatly dressed in dark blue jeans, a dark blue Oxford shirt and thick-framed glasses, Morin, who calls the Upper East Side, where he's lived since 2007, his favorite neighborhood in the city, speaks softly and thoughtfully, even when he's not sure if he's using real words. "I've had some visual things stuck in my head where I've had to put them on canvas," said Morin about what he calls 'eye worms,' or visual elements that he can't get out of his brain. "That might not even be a term. Like an ear worm, but it's in your head." The Suffolk County native took to the piano at an early age, when his grandmother gave him and his siblings a Ludwig piano. The second-eldest of eight children, Morin remembers recreating sounds he heard in nature.

"We were all very intrigued by creating sounds and just banging on this thing," Morin said. "I remember just wanting to create different landscapes, storm and rain, even before I had a piano lesson."

A classically-trained pianist, Morin studied music at Stony Brook University in Long Island, and completed a Master's program in piano performance at New York University, though he still recreates the sounds he hears around him. Recently, a cricket found its way into his apartment, and he wrote a piece of music that mimicked the cricket's chirping.

Morin works from his tidy home, which also appears as a spontaneous gallery to his work and interests. His own paintings hang on the walls, and a black Yamaha piano sits underneath the living room window; on the bookshelf rests a thick collection of Artur Schnabel's recordings of Beethoven's sonatas, which, as of late, he listens to while painting.

Though the exhibition at Spectrum will remain up until the early fall, Morin's planning his next project, an exploration of television static, another seemingly ordinary element, not unlike elevators, crickets and the passage of time. Along with original piano compositions that imitate the sound of static, Morin sets images of static to his music, almost like a choreographed dance of grainy lines and colors.

"You can actually capture some of the most beautiful images through television static," he said.