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Blink: Art For The Ears And Eyes

The original composition for Blink can be heard at the Freedom Center.

The Blink festival starts Thursday night in downtown Cincinnati and Over-the-Rhine. The four day light and art show features animated projections, interactive light sculptures, and murals along with music and sound, including a soundscape created especially for the show.

Blink starts with a parade at sundown Thursday on Vine Street. Projectors will light up buildings and sculptures from Findlay Market to the Banks. Six stages in between will feature musicians and live music each night. 

There will be sounds of a different sort at the Freedom Center.

Zac Greenberg composed a nearly 45 minute soundscape to enhance the light show projected onto the Freedom Center.

"It's called the "Sounds of the Future City" and I went around all of Cincinnati and did field recording of things that I felt were very representative of the city."

That includes sounds of cicadas, traffic, fountains, Findlay Market, and the streetcar. He describes his soundscape as a magical ride on the streetcar as it travels not just Downtown, but all over the city.

"What it's really all about, of capturing all of those, is there is a translation breakdown between reality and anything captured. A picture's never like being there," he says.

Greenberg says sound and visual art not only go hand in hand, but are necessary for one another. He likens it to watching a film without a music soundtrack.

"A lot of times people aren't aware of it until it's either there or not there. Both pieces could exist and would exist by themselves, but there's no way for it to be as emotive without each other. If it was just the visuals, it would still be amazing, but there's no way for it to get inside your soul in the same way."

The 27-year-old composed the music in the soundscape. The melody is based on a photo of the city's skyline, complete with a reflection in the Ohio River. It makes up the musical staff.

"I put the skyline directly in the middle of two staves. The actual image was in the treble clef and the reflection was in the bass clef. And all the peaks and valleys took those notes and that created the main melody for the whole piece."

The melody is played on the only musical instrument he used, a piano.

Greenberg came to Blink with a growing interest in how sound affects people. He's working with his grandmother on a therapeutic non-profit, Musicians for Health. The idea is to get people to focus on spatial awareness through sound.

"If you're working or living or in a high-stress environment, you can just put in your earbuds and put on some sound. It doesn't need to be music necessarily. It doesn't need to be a song. It can just be something that sets a tone."  

He says the art therapy can enhance or open people up to more traditional treatments.

Greenberg is performing on-stage at Blink near the Charlie Harper mural at Court and Walnut streets. He won't be playing his original composition. Instead he'll play folk, jazz, blues and kids music.

Blink runs through Sunday evening.