Musical Eyes: Pandit on Vast Landscapes

Pandit is Lance Smith, a songwriter/musician/producer hailing from Lumberton, Texas, where, alone in his room, he experiments with pop music. What he’s discovered is a sound that weaves in and out of various realms of the soul, scoring the soundtrack for an introspective journey within, navigating an unknown landscape.

I’ve always been interested in what types of visual art musicians were surrounding themselves with, which artists may have inadvertently influenced a sound. Lance has been gracious enough to help me form this new series, Musical Eyes, where we’ll begin exploring the favorite art/artists of musicians and perhaps gain a little more insight into the vision behind the sound.

I invite you to listen to as you take in the images and read his responses to a few questions I had on his interest in vast landscapes.

Kathryn, My Love "Kathryn, My Love"
In Love With a Fool feat. Foxes in Fiction & Coma Cinema "In Love With a Fool feat. Foxes in Fiction & Coma Cinema"
Human Qualities "Human Qualities"

Why do you think you are drawn to landscape photography?

My father introduced me to Ansel Adams when I was very young. He had bought a book consisting of various famous photos while he was stationed in San Diego in the late 60′s, waiting to head for Vietnam. My father was able to hold on to that book to this day, and I tend to pick it up quite often.

I’ve always been so interested in the Old West, especially 1800′s Texas history. I look at these photos that were taken nearly 70 years ago, and picture myself in another time period. A period in American history where there were millions of acres for the taking. I’ve consistently had those types of dreams since I was in my early teen years where I would be riding across country looking for a place to settle. This Ansel Adams photo in particular is one of those places where I could have seen myself establishing myself.

Do you feel your song writing is ever influenced by these vast open spaces, consciously or otherwise?

Most definitely. I spend a large amount of my free time out in the woods where I fish and explore. There are a ton of creek beds and wide spread fields, lots that just so happen to influence how I write a lot of my music. The words themselves in my songs don’t necessarily depict any of that, but I believe the music itself does. The elements of isolation and nature itself tend to come out a lot in what I might be playing. Whether its a guitar being played or a synth section, it relates quite accurately to where I’ve been and what I’ve seen in a lot of landscape photography.

Your music always conveys a distinct mood, do you ever have a specific vision of what the final sound might look like?

Never cohesively, no. A lot of what I write is based on letting go of really trying to write anything in particular. I never actually go into something thinking “Ok, this is what I intend on making.” It always turns out to be unexpected and even a surprise to myself. I really enjoy the process of never knowing what I’m going to end up with. There’s this intense adrenaline rush that sets sail through me when that takes place. If I write a song on an acoustic guitar, I can pretty much tell how its going to end up on record. But allowing myself to be free with what I’m doing and never setting any direction or goal, it always pleases and stimulates me much much more. There’s just something about it that makes me happier and in awe than anything that could have been written beforehand. Something you make that you cannot explain afterwords is the beauty of how far advanced the human brain and soul is. We will never understand it. That’s what makes me so passionate about continually making art. To never know what I’m going to end up with.

Being a musician, do you feel you see art differently from say, an oceanographer?

Everyone sees and interprets art in a different manner. I don’t think anyone ever really sees the same thing. If that is the case, then it just isn’t that interesting. Where I might look at a photograph of underwater life being somewhat of a nightmare or a phobia in a sense, an oceanographer might see it as a world of hope and light. I believe everyone takes what they see or create and interprets it completely different than what anyone else might relate it to. That to me is very special. Its yours. If no one else has that same interpretation, its your own belief. You control it.

Are there any visual artists (past or present) that you wish you could meet? What would you talk about with them?

I’ve always found Andy Warhol to be extremely interesting. I have a ton of old footage from some early Velvet Underground shows in the 60′s where he did all the visual work. A lot of the visual stuff done or thought of from that time period might be associated with the hippie movement. A ton of chemical colors flattened on a projector. Andy’s work was very very moving with real footage that he would tamper with. I read where he would cut certain parts of film and connect them with paintings he would do. He would leave the film outside in the heat for a matter of hours and allow the film itself to burn. When played it was this hellish interpretation of what everyone seemed to be going through back then like the draft and the overabundance of assassinations in those days.
If I could talk to Andy, I would try to figure out where he got a lot of his ideas from. The man was a total innovator of how art is perceived to be today. In a ton of Hollywood films that depict Warhol, he’s shown as this tripped out dope head. But from what I’ve read and have been told by people who knew him, he was the complete opposite. He was there mentally and would talk for hours about the meaning of life and what kind of times that they were living in. The man was a true artist.

Images, from top to bottom:

  1. (Title image) garmonique – untitled
  2. Kim Holtermand – Icelands
  3. Tim Navis – Sandia Peak, NM
  4. Ansel Adams – Mt. Moran, Teton National Park
  5. Ashley Oostdyck – Forever
  6. Janice and Nolan Braud - Field of Texas Bluebonnets, Lupinus texensis, and Indian Paintbrush, Castilleja indivisa, near Whitehall, Texas.
  7. Tim Navis - Death Valley, CA

You can find Pandit’s music here: Full length debut ‘Eternity Spin’ | Free ep ‘Strong Nerves and a Steady Heart’ | Free 17 track demo


Under the White Sea, speculating

Dreaming of another world, full of shapes, colors and creatures both foreign and fantastic needn’t take your thoughts to distant space…

That’s how I was going to contextualize the Clione 1.0 Underwater Experiments of Alexander Semenov but I wasn’t particularly inspired by that thought as I’m sure I’ve heard it in a nature film somewhere. So there these images sat, idle in my drafts, until something more interesting came along, until this morning.

I was walking to work in a thunderstorm, dodging deep puddles and rivers in the street as lightning lit up the city. I thought to myself, what if this down pour never stopped? What if the city was completely underwater? Today, it would be tragic and on every newscast, but what about centuries from now? How long would it take for it to pass out of our collective memory, the way the origins of our oceans and the life within it have for us today? Say it happened to all modern cities, all current civilization. How much time do you think would have to go by before we start exploring this new world, speculating as to how structures made of concrete and steel could have grown out from the earth? Collecting specimens of a man-made society without the knowledge of man making it. Would it just be another phase in history to keep us occupied and keep our imagination fueled with wonder? The same way Aurellia aurita tentacles and sponge caprellas do to us now?

Do some more speculating and digital exploring within Semenov’s galleries here.


The Aurora

Terje Sorgjerd spent a week in national parks bordering Russia. Armed with patience and a motion control dolly he endured the -25 degree Celsius temperatures to capture this dance of the spirits. As I watched the sky birth florescence I began wondering what this must have been like for the first man to wander the arctic. Without being jaded by omnipresent visual effects or explained in terms of ions, photons or magnetism, what would seeing the shifting night feel like? Would it resemble a dream? Could this have been the source of his very first dream? Was he brought to his knees by terror seeing his ceiling morph? Or did it fill him with an unexplained warmth forcing the bitter cold from his mind? Whatever effect it had, it must have been powerful, spiritual, and the source of many stories shared with any he encountered. But without experiencing the aurora borealis first hand I’m sure they would have thought his stories to be the ramblings of a mad imagination, warped by arctic isolation.

Side note: I’m not a huge fan of the editing or soundtrack choice, but it will fuel the wandering mind nonetheless. I recommend muting it and scoring it yourself. I accompanied my daydreaming with Memoryhouse.


Landon Speers’ Nocturne Self-portraits

Serene, quiet and tranquil. These words come to mind while looking at the nocturne self-portraits of Landon Speers. Although hidden from our voyeuristic gaze, his eyes appear to be emanating a peace so pure that one could only attain while drifting within a dream of a dream. His bed transforms into a moonlit cloud and we wish to have the same dream tonight. This, all from looking at the images. But that’s not the whole story. In Landon’s words,

“For several weeks leading up to the series I’d been suffering from nightmares nightly. I woke up feeling anything but refreshed as the subject matter of these dreams chased me through each day and then joined me once more in bed at night. I began to wonder how I looked during these dreams. Did I look as miserable and distraught as I felt when they occurred?

In an effort to explore this, I took four times the recommended amount of sleeping pills for a few consecutive nights. I positioned the camera directly above my bed and set it to automatically take a portrait once an hour throughout the night. The following is a selection of images from these nights.”

Look into the images again. Do you see them differently?


Immaterials: Light painting an invisible landscape

There are invisible landscapes all around us. Every day we live among them, pass through them, we utilize them, yet they remain completely undetected by our naked eye. Timo Arnall, Jørn Knutsen and Einar Sneve Martinussen have ingeniously devised a method to visualize these concealed network within physical space. They built a light stick that responds to Wi-Fi signal strength, walked it through the city revealing with time lapse photography the changes in the transparent atmosphere. I won’t go into detail on how they created the device, you can read all the specifics here. I just love how they found a simple and visually beautiful way to open our eyes to what we cannot see. Makes me wonder what other forces are fluctuating around us that we are unable to detect, and who will come along and reveal them to us.


Think or Smile | Nathaniel Whitcomb © 2011