Digital Synethsesia

I was most struck by the KAZU and SCHNITT videos. While very different, I felt that both succeeded in tying the auditory and visual experience together in an impressively seamless way.

The SCHNITT piece I think succeeds for its thematic minimalism across both audio and sound. First is its relative simplicity and thematic coherence: the glass, laser green light, and dry electronic tones match each other to evoke a cold, futuristic sound/visual landscape. The motion is also correspondingly simple - as the audio only contains a few different voices and motifs (bass and drums), so the visuals only react in a correspondingly similar way (sustained texture during bass hits, and bright fast motions for the drum hits). In contrast, McLaren’s “Synchromy” and the Sakamoto/Manabe “Sensing Streams,” while both quite minimal, I feel fail to meet quite the same level of unification between auditory and visual experience. McLaren’s “Synchromy” colors and geometric shapes don’t relate to the melodic tones of the music, and perhaps most importantly the variations in musical language (intervals, chords, etc.) are lost in the direct translation of the tones to their waveforms. “Sensing Streams” similarly chooses to visualize elements that don’t always correspond well to the subjective listening experience - frequency spectra for instance.

KAZU’s piece succeds for completely different reasons. In contrast to SCHNITT’s work, the KAZU video is more maximalist, choosing to use photorealistic renderings of landscapes, human figures, and switching occasionally between varying rendering methods, often timed with hits in the indie-pop flavored music track. However, I think this maximalist approach works well given the musical subject. The vocal performance in the KAZU track plays a frontal role, so the synchronized appearances and disappearances of the human figure along with the vocal beats lends character and personality to the already playful musical track. As the song progresses along its musical structure, the changes in rendering strategy and camera angle movement serve to complement the growth in musical tension and ambition, allowing the visual components to synesthesize the larger structure of the musical experience, not just the microfeatures of the audio character (contrast to the Woolston Piano Form piece, which is very compelling in the moment but whose visualization lacks any awareness of the larger musical arc) .


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