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Brief Published: 22 Aug 2014

Marketing Synaesthesia

Andy Thomas's birdsong visualisation

Multimedia artist Andy Thomas has created mesmerising 3D visualisations of birdsong.

Using textures lifted from his own nature photography and a mix of 3D modelling, animation and video post-production software, he gave visual shape to birdsong from the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision archive.

This work, commissioned by Europeana Creative, is almost an illustration of synesthesia – a neurological phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in another. Those who experience synesthesia might hear colours or taste words, for instance.

Through visualising sound, touch or flavour, or attaching audio features to imagery, synesthetic features allow for new methods of composition in digital media – an opportunity to create novel contexts.

Imagine creating a colour scheme by composing a harmonic chord on the Wassiliscope, which translates light frequencies into acoustic ones. Or consider herb and spice brand Schwartz's sonic poster that tied a musical note to different flavour experiences.

In physical spaces, synesthetic approaches can create engrossing experiences. This month, Tasmania's Museum of Old and New Art hosted a music festival by the name Synaesthesia that explored how the experience of conventional classical music could be recontextualised with space and light.

Thomas's synesthetic birdsongs are a compelling take on how we could shape content in digital spaces. We cover more of the latest developments in digital advertising and storytelling in our Post-Digital Macro Trend.