Thursday, November 13, 2008

Colorstream project

You wouldn't know it from my online activity, but I've been working on a project to visualize sound. Basically, each moment in sound has a certain intensity of low rumbly noises (pitches), medium pitches, high hissy pitches, and all the pitches in between. In "white noise", all these pitches are equally on. It turns out light and color follow a similar pattern. There's a spectrum of color from red to blue (low pitch to high pitch), and a combination of a bunch of colors of the rainbow equates to a color we see with our eyes. All colors on looks white. All colors off, black.

Well, the basis of my project is, "What if we looked directly at the sound spectrum as if it were the light spectrum? What if we could see sound as color?" As it happens, when you look at the 20th Century Fox noise on the color spectrum instead of the sound spectrum, it looks like this (click for larger version):

Pee Wee Herman saying "Large Marge Sent Me" before some spooky music, like this:

The pictures above are the result of a bunch of experimentation to find a useful mapping from sound to color, and learning a few carefully selected programs involved in the process. The steps to do the conversion have been pretty manual, but I've been developing a tool that will automatically generate these "color streams". However, I'll get into that in a future post.


AT said...

SYNESTHESIA. Do you know it? It's reached a tipping point in my life this week (as has the book The Tipping Point). We will talk about this next weekend when I hang out with you. Next. Weekend.

Brian said...

You're not the first person to think of this when introduced to these color strips, but you are the first person to reference it by name. Sound -> Color Synesthesia gets its own section, even.

I can't wait.