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Granular-Synthesis, Lux, 2003

What Sound Does a Color Make

For some people, a stimulus to one of the five senses evokes the sensation of another sense, as when hearing a sound produces the visualization of a color. For contemporary audiovisual artists, the possibilities inspired by this phenomenon, known as synesthesia, have expanded with the advent of recent digital technologies that translate all electronic media, whether sounds or moving images, into the zeros and ones of computer bits. The exhibition features several sensuous new media environments fascinating to technophiles and general audiences alike, heightening awareness of human perception and cognition. What Sound Does a Color Make? explores the fusion of vision and sound in electronic media, and connects the recent boom of digital audiovisual art to its pre-digital roots by presenting a selection of single-channel videos from the 1970s and ten contemporary works by an internationally diverse group of artists.

One of the recent works, by Jim Campbell, is a portrait of a colleague who uses sound in his own art. Here, an L.E.D. grid is activated by playing a recording of that man’s voice, and the gridded lights resemble pixels that gradually build up an image of the man, with his voice’s high tones translated into white and the low tones into black. Another contemporary work is an interactive installation by D-Fuse, a London-based collective of artists and musicians, which layers different music soundtracks onto dynamic video clips, creating a distinctive audiovisual experience. The earlier works from the 1970s, by such pioneers of video art as Nam June Paik, Steina Vasulka, and Gary Hill, place the current interest in synesthetic media art in a broader historical context, offering a unique perspective on this phenomenon.

The accompanying catalogue discusses the exhibited works in relation to art-historical precedents and to research on synesthesia from the fields of science and psychology.

Guest curator Kathleen Forde is curator at EMPAC (Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center), Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York.

Nam June Paik and Yud YalkutExhibition Itinerary
Eyebeam Center for Art and Technology
New York, New York
May 25 – July 16, 2005

Wood Street Galleries
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
November 4 – December 31, 2005

Center for Art and Visual Culture, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Baltimore, Maryland
January 27 – May 7, 2006

Additional venues to be confirmed





Kathleen Forde Curator
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