Birgitta Hosea

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Photosonic (2006)

An animated moving painting in which computer programming generates the sound track from the colours that are used.

artist statement (2006)

Computer technologies can enable us to make new connections and synaesthetic relationships through a cross wiring of digital sense data. This idea of synaesthesia gives ideas as to how to create more complex types of user interaction through the collection of multi-modal, multi-sensory data. A computer doesn’t just display or process data – it can also input ‘sense’ data. It can ‘hear’ through a microphone, ‘see’ with its Cyclops web cam eye and ‘feel’ through a keyboard, mouse or WACOM tablet. It can also process its ‘memories’ – in the form of images, sounds, movies, etc. Digital smell and taste simulators also exist, but this specialised industrial equipment is not yet in common usage. In the digital environment all of this ‘sensual’ information is stored as a series of zeros and ones – the same basic building blocks – facilitating the creation of new relationships between audio, visual and gestural data. With the computer we can create non-linguistic multi-sensory work and, therefore, I would like to argue that the digital environment is inherently and ontologically synaesthetic.

Photosonic (2006) was an early piece of research that I did into developing a synaesthetic paradigm. It is an abstract animation that used programming to make colour generate the tones used as the sound track. Synching visuals to a soundtrack is a relatively straightforward process using a program like After Effects. This project, however, aimed for the opposite: to create abstract, experimental colour animation, which generates its own soundtrack from the colours that were used. It is an example of digital synaesthesia in which sound can be seen and colour heard.

Concerned to explore the materiality of the synthetic digital environment, as opposed to adopting the language of lens-based media, the short film, Photosonic, explored digital colour and synthetic audio tones. Complimentary colours are used to produce the optical illusion of movement or previous images known as an after image, as in Brigit Riley paintings. Thus, the work creates illusions in the mind that don’t exist in the real world.