Creating Living, Musical Paintings



Sounds of a Sphere blends traditional musical performance with theatrical art, visualising the sound & soul of cultures worldwide.

This is a preview screening of Māori artists Pūoro Jerome (Taonga Pūoro) and Marcus Winter (Sand Art)

An Indian (Tamil) classical performance performed by Auckland based Archana Ravi.


Example of an artistic style applied to each video frame using the algorithm

Lisa Reihana's In Pursuit of Venus

Simplistic backdrops place focus on the stunning compositions and costumes from Zi De Guqin.


'Less is more' is the general ethos here - emphasising dynamic melodies that embody a connection to culture and land. The song choices are capable of moving emotions and are in essence, beautiful. Think: Melodies of the heart. These could be joyous, energetic, or slow and sad. What matters is that a strong feeling is encapsulated - coming from a cultural and/or personal place.

'Cultural' is anything that resonates the creative heart and soul of a culture.
Sounds of a Sphere places focus on the simple, the sincere and the timeless.

To captivate a listener’s emotions in totality I feel that in some cases all it takes is a single player: playing one instrument and/or singing with raw imperfection.
Overall, here are some examples: Armenia, Peru, Norway, India, Hawaii, Armenia(Duduk), Kenya, Chile

While blending contemporary with traditional, there is a preference for the simple yet beautiful folk songs that have survived the test of time and tell a historical story. Example: Greece's Seikilos Epitaph - one of the worlds oldest notated songs (200 BC)

As a mixing engineer, I aim to create a consistency in the style of mixes: emphasising warmth, and the feeling of ethereal space in relation to the setting of the artwork.
And lastly, as a keen tinkerer of foley sounds in sound design, where appropriate I may subtly decorate a song with the atmosphere that the theme provokes.

The artworks will initially be created by myself. In the near future, I wish to bring in other artists who have related cultural ties to the collaboration table. Any suggestions are welcome!

Artworks can be digital Eg) Photoshop, 3D or physical such as painting, drawing. Subtle animations are a great bonus.

They could be simple and elegant, focusing on colours or a lack thereof, leaving much to the imagination...
Or rich and complex, painting a vivid scene.

In most cases, the art should not steal the focus from the performers.

Cues from the cultures historical artistic styles are strongly encouraged. Care/instruction will initially be shared from myself to ensure symbolic accuracy, in the hopes of avoiding kitsch, tacky or culturally appropriated art.

How the art becomes animated
Using one frame, the artist paints over the performers, fitting the still into the artwork. An algorithm applies the style to the remaining frames of the filmed performance and the end result is a kind of music video, with the stillness and captivation of staring at a painting.

This could be a simple emphasis of highlights and shadows to match the backdrop, or a total stylistic makeover.


1. A choice of song (or songs) is offered by the musician.
2. The artist and musician agree on song(s); discuss their mood & meaning / set & setting and together come up with an art direction.
3. We agree on filming a dub or live performance. A draft of the art-piece is created. The musical performance is filmed against a green screen with outfits/costumes (optional) and a lighting setup to match the art-piece.
4. The performance is implemented into the artwork.
5. The music stems are mixed, and the resulting master is combined with the video.
6. The video is uploaded to YouTube, and if you desire, distributed (under your name) to Spotify, Tidal, Apple music and Bandcamp.


I wish for musicians and artists to receive equal shares, conscious of equal input. If one party has put in more time than the other, profits will be balanced accordingly.

By default, any profits from video streaming or NFTs are divided by the musician (35%), the artist (35%) and brand (30% - covering costs and promotion).

It's important to me that this balance feels fair, thus this framework is negotiable.


I am a New Zealand born digital illustrator and producer / mixing engineer based in Auckland. You can view my artwork here.
I am one third of the musical act Kahika: Examples of my love for atmospheric sound design, which will be subtly incorporated in this project, can be heard here and here.

Outside of NZ, Australia and the UK, I've also lived in Germany, Romania and France. My earnings over the last decade were all spent on travel. As the number of countries I visited grew, so did my capacity to fully immerse myself; taking longer trips and deepening my curiousity in the people, the culture and their myriad forms of art/music.

If you have read this far, I thank you for taking the time to consider this proposal and I sincerely hope we can collaborate.

Jonathan Hislop.

Contact me