Monthly Archives: November 2006

Abstract Art Project: Synasound

I’ve completed a project for a university class. The project is called Synasound, and it is about a phenomenon called synaesthesia.

Synaesthesia is a cognitive phenomenon in which stimulation in one sense organ produces an effect in other sense organs. A small percentage of the population experiences this effect regularly. For example, some synaethsetics “see” tastes, or “taste” colors. For these people, this effect is constant and unavoidable.

All humans are capable of some level of synaesthetic effect. One way to explore this effect is to name the nameless. This reveals our shape-to-sound synaesthetic biases.

There exist a class of computer programs call “visualisations” which process an audio signal into a visual representation. Some of these, like equalizer bars, are utilitarian, while others simply produce interesting abstract shapes in order to amuse an observer.

My minor project is, in short, the inverse of a visualization. The program allows the user to create and manipulate an abstract shape, and generates a continuous sound output from this shape. This “sonicization” process may allow many different effects to be produced.

Note that Synasound is not production software, so it is not really easy to use. It is not difficult to get an effect, but the shape wobble algorithms do have a tendency to destabilize and run away. You should be able to have fun with it, but be close to your speaker volume knob in case things get out of hand.

Download Synasound here. To install, just unzip the files to a directory and run the program.