Google’s new synesthesia experiment turns iconic painting into music

Brittany A. Roston - Feb 10, 2021, 7:07pm CST
Google’s new synesthesia experiment turns iconic painting into music

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to experience synesthesia? If so, Google’s latest Arts & Culture experiment is here to help. The experiment is inspired by Russian art theorist and painter Vassily Kandinsky, who experienced synesthesia and could hear musical chords and tones as he painted with different colors.

Google’s new experiment briefly introduces users to this concept, giving them an experience that may be similar to the one experienced by Kandinsky. As with past similar experiments, anyone can access the new tool (here) and use it to generate their own unique creation.

Users can click on different shapes and colors to experience something like Kandinsky described; red, for example, is associated with the violin. The most interesting aspect of the experiment, however, is the ability to hear Kandinsky’s “Yellow-Red-Blue” masterpiece.

‘Listen to this masterpiece as Kandinsky might have heard it [as] interpreted by composers Antoine Bertin and NSDOS,’ Google explains on the experiment’s website. Machine learning guides users through the seven movements of the iconic painting, translating the visual into music.

Finally, users can click the ‘try it yourself’ option to select a pair of emotions and hear what the mood sounds like based on Kandinsky’s work. Users have the option of activating and deactivating different shapes to adjust the music. The final work can be shared using the tool’s ‘Share’ option.


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