[-empyre-] "synaesthetic media"

On 10/12/2004, at 2:14 AM, Nancy Paterson wrote:

“the most salient and vital aspect of interacting with computer systems is consistently overlooked, that is, the importance of computer systems as perceptual rather than conceptual tools. Insofar as people interact with them, computer systems function primarily as sensual transducers which I term synaesthetic media and not as so-called cognitive-artifacts.”

Great stuff - can we have the full reference to this research Nancy?

For a few years I've been observing new media / experimental music work which explores exactly this function of digital media - their ability to transduce signal / information between sensory modes. These works are examples of "synaesthetic media" in the sense that they demonstrate a kind of machine synaesthesia and evoke a human sensory fusion / crossover. What interests me is that such work is evoking human synaesthesia through a non-human process - via the particular audio/visual crossovers offered by digital/analog media technologies, rather than the crossovers generated in our neural structures. It's interesting also that this evocation is powerful in spite of what might be considered the "artefacts" of transduction - for example the 50Hz hum that results from turning an analog video signal into audio. In fact it's the properties of the signal *per se* which the works direct us to...

Two of my favourite examples... both happen to be Australian (in memoriam OzCo New Media Arts)

Robin Fox, Backscatter (DVD) - Synaesthesia Records, 2004. (see for eg http://www.synrecords.com/synaesthesia/featured/ - I can't find any video online!) This work is truly astounding: live generated digital waveforms plugged into an oscilloscope in "polar" mode... Fox designs sounds and gestures for visual as well as sonic results - staggering.

Andrew Gadow, INVERSION (2001). Again not online as far as I know. Gadow generates video live with an old Fairlight CVI (digital video "synthesiser") and simply routes the video signal out as audio. Abstract, flickering, noisy, degraded video, sound similar, end result is hardcore sensory fusion.



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