You and Your Work – Tom Newell

Q. Who are you and what form does your artistic practice take?

My name is Tom Newell and I’m an audio-visual digital artist, working under the moniker ‘Lumen‘. My work focusses on visualising music for live performers, stage productions and installations.

Q. Why and how did you start this sort of work?

I grew up a keen musician and studied music until the age of 21, but was surrounded by visual art due to my dad being a fine art lecturer. I was always fascinated by abstract art and animation. An MA in interaction design and a move to the musical mecca of Bristol led me to the world of VJing and experimenting with visual music.

Q. What contexts do you tend to work in and with whom?

The bulk of my work is in live events, creating visuals for touring bands, DJs and theatre productions. I have worked at clubs and festivals all over the country including Glastonbury, The Big Chill, Greenman and it has taken me as far as Berlin, Venice and soon a full tour of Europe with Hidden Orchestra.

Q. What’s your most significant moment of learning as an artist?

Previously a useless academic, I was encouraged to explore the link between abstract expressionist painters and New York experimental composers, for my final year dissertation. It sent me in to a world of research, experimenting and discovering works of art and philosophy that were incredibly inspiring and set me on a path which would eventually lead me to what has become my full time career.

Q. How do you feel your artistic practice fits within the bigger picture?

The world of VJing and digital art in general is still relatively new, with wide-ranging experiments happening all over the world at a rapid rate. As an art-form VJing is often impermanent in that it’s live and improvised. The work is displayed in environments that are far from a gallery space and to an audience that perhaps would not see such imagery elsewhere. It can encompass many multi-disciplinary facets as it’s a completely open platform as to how the imagery is made, sourced or mixed.

Q. Can you give us a quotation, individual or piece of artistic work that you find inspiring, and why?

Wassily Kandinsky is is one of my biggest inspirations, due not only to his pioneering experiments in abstraction and representing music with painting, but also his philosphophy of art being a form of communication and the artist using their tools to express something deeper than just a moment or an object in front of them. He once said ‘Colour is the keyboard, the eyes are the hammers, the soul is the piano with many strings.’