The synaesizer : a synesthetic experience generator

2012-09-09 15:08:26

A synaesizer (or synesthèseur in french) is a device that makes you see what it hears and hear what it sees. Thus, it turns you into a synesthete, just like Kandisky, who could hear music in colours or Nabokov, for which letters would conjure up colours. 

To do so, it is an artificial synesthete in itself: its video system is directly plugged into the audio and vice-versa. If we compare it to a human being, it can hear with its eyes and see with its ears and what it sees alters what it hears, which endlessly alters what it sees...


The technique used here is the "databending", which is a form of "hacking" in the primary meaning of the word. Files or datastreams, whatever their original purpose is, are interpreted as audio files. Raw data often generates raw sounds, this is why Exomène developed a specific interpretation and refining process, partly based on spectrogram's analysis and power spectral density.

Enough with theory! I wrote a step by step explanation.


Databending does not apply to computers only. Like it's altering the semantics of signs, databending is possible with all symbol systems such as the human brain. When a human brain bends data, it is also synesthesia: union of the senses, etymologically.

This device is therefore an artificial (multimodal and bidirectional) synesthete, its senses having been melt together. But that quality of being a synesthete is only the consequence of its primary function, which is to generate a synesthetic experience on its user. It's an artificial synesthetic generator, what can be called a synaesizer.

What does a synaesizer look like?

Here is the recording of the first version of the synaesizer using pictures from the series "Visions désaturées" by Dorianne Wotton as it was shown at its first exhibition (Urgent) in mid october 2011.

(I'm on some of the pictures, could you recognize me? :D )

If you want to support this work and allow me to go further in my experiments by buying the album on Bandcamp.