Back in 2011, Jane’s Addiction Drummer Stephen Perkins teamed up with SceneFour to create visual drum art for the “Art of Drums” series. The idea intrigued Perkins because of how hard it is to capture the energy of a drummer in a photo, despite the amount of power coming from a drum set. According to an interview Perkins had with The Stranger, the visual drum art captured everything about drumming that you want a photograph to capture but can’t.
To create the art, Perkins played the drums in a dark room using drumsticks with lit, colored tips. Photographers took pictures while Perkins played, resulting in vibrant, abstract images that seem to capture lava spewing from a drum kit. Like a Rorschach test, the images are interpretive, but Perkins saw that drumming energy that’s hard to capture on film. “I see my personality - hyper, bubbly,” he told The Stranger. “I like to travel around the drum kit. [...] You can see that in this art, someone who likes to move around, someone who is mobile.
Both the visual art and Perkins’ interpretation of it sparked The Stranger to ask what he thinks when playing to have created such visual energy. “I think about what happens from below the ways,” he said. “How do I make people move?” Looking at the visual art he created for “Art of Drums,” you can really see that movement. The fiery images fully capture Perkins’ ability to ignite movement in his audience, something you can’t see in a picture of a drummer playing or even in a picture of the audience. But at their simplest, the images capture that energy and rhythm that, otherwise, we’d never witness without being present to hear, see, and feel every beat.
Photo by Stephen Perkins/Art of Drums. From lineout.thestranger.com.