What if… we had wings?

As Barbara pointed out already in her post “What if your dreams come true?” we are working on a part in our show about “flying” and “spreading your wings”. Looking for examples of flying creatures, one of the first coming to my mind are of course angels. The main distinction between these creatures and us seems to be the wings on their back. When I was visiting the Gallerie dell’Academia in Venice some days ago, I saw a beautiful example by Carlo Saraceni (1579–1620), painted around 1610:


 Carlo Saraceni Saint Cecilia and the Angel (around 1610)

The woman tuning the lute is saint Cecilia, the patroness of musicians and the angel is protecting her and the musical instruments with big, very naturalistic wings. When I see all the instruments on the picture, all referring to music and sound,I start to wonder how the angel’s wings sound. Is it just “flapping” like bird wings? Or is it something more “angel”like, with sounds we human beings don’t know yet?

Another painting in this exhibition, also by Saraceni, tells us what happens when we human beings carry wings ourselves. It is a depiction of “The Fall of Icarus”. Ignoring the warnings of his father, Icarus flies too close to the sun. The wax holding the feathers of his wings together melts and he falls into the sea where he drowns. The wings are attached here to the arms of Icarus and his father, making a much less stable impression than the angel’s wings above. How do these wings sound? More like birds? Or are these more clumsy sounds, making clear that these wings are fragile and instable human-made extensions to our body?

Paesaggio con caduta di Icaro (Carlo Saraceni, 1606-07)Carlo Saraceni The Fall of Icarus (beginning of the 17th Century)


About Cathy van Eck

Cathy van Eck is a composer and sound artist as well as a researcher in the arts. She is focusing on the relationship between technical objects and human performers. Her artistic work includes compositions with live-electronics, as well as performances with sound objects, which she often designs herself. She is interested in bringing the movements of the performer into an unusual releationship with the sounding result, mainly by electronic means.

There are 6 comments

  1. barbara_lueneburg

    Thank you, Cathy, for your beautiful post. I have never thought about the sound of wings and what meaning their sound could carry. It inspires me to search for angelic wing sounds. I am very happy.

  2. eddapascher

    Beautiful pictures – I did actually think about Ikarus, he did not too well with his wings… Which reminds me of the saying: Be careful what you wish for! 🙂

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