White Noise and Trafficby: Jennifer

One of the most synasthetic experiences I have ever had was evoked by Christian Marclay’s “White Noise” installation, which I saw/heard back in 2003 at the UCLA Hammer Museum.  The wall of photos–all pinned backward, their scrawled descriptions luring errant hands to turn them over–not only evokes static visually, but the sound of “white noise” internally–emotionally and physically.  My desire to turn the photos over was extremely strong, matched only my strained discipline–being in a museum, touching is forbidden.  So I stalked the backs of the photographs, pacing ferally back and forth, listening, feeling, and watching the unsettling static.

This week–I noticed this same sound again while driving around here in Binghamton, New York.  The traffic here is not bad–quite the opposite.  There is only a trickle of cars, even at rush hour.  The problem is the traffic lights, which seemingly exist to create traffic rather than direct it.    Because the traffic is so light, the lights are seemingly set irrespective of the other–and they are not equipped with sensors to flip the lights if there are no other cars on the road.  Having grown up in Southern California, where the lights are exquisitely timed and sensored and traffic is a science, the ill-timed lights especially raise my hackles.  As much as I don’t miss real “traffic,”  I do miss flow. Here in Binghamton, I often wait my turn at one light–by myself, the red light blowing mockingly in the wind–for no one to pass for several minutes, only to get a green and make it to the next light. . .just in time for it to turn yellow and then red, for absolutely no one.  I feel the taunting desire to run the light, to blast through the parkway as I should be able to, riding the green lights on into the sunset, and I hear/feel the unmistakeable “white noise” that Marclay taught me about over a decade ago.



considering sensory modalitiesby: Robin

two drummers drumming

My work as a sound artist has foregrounded the fact that not only are our “common sense” (excuse the pun) notions of the senses incomplete, in many cases they are utterly wrong.

The first orthodoxy in need of revision is that we have only five senses. Consider that we feel cold differently from pain, we have a sense of balance, we know where our body parts are in relationship to one another (proprioception), and so on. Likely we have something like a dozen senses, depending on how you want to catalogue them.

Second, senses are not neatly categorised according to which organs perform the task. Sound is notable in this regard. We hear with the complex of parts known (for convenience) as the ear, but also with the spaces within our body, our skin, and other tissues besides. Everyone who has been to a nightclub is familiar with bass pounding in the chest. Some personal speakers (sound transducers) work through bone conduction. High frequencies can make our skin crawl, or set our teeth on edge. This doesn’t even consider the ganglia that process the nerve signals on the way to the brain, or the role of the brain itself.

Hearing is a whole body process.

It is far from surprising, then, that the senses inform each other. I am not referring to sensational accounts of synaesthesia  in rare individuals, but rather everyday phenomena. Some of these are driven by our cumulative experience in the world. Take for example these photos, which I took this week while thinking about this assignment. Can you view the first without hearing the snap of a snare drum?

Does the second photograph not conjure up the distinctive sound of a typewriter?

the sound of a typewriter

Furthermore we look for patterns everywhere, and are likely to use these to relate otherwise disparate sensory data. For example, flowing lines in a painting might elicit a feeling of speed, of wind in the face, or of a flowing melody. Many visual artists have relied on these conjunctions; I am thinking here specifically of Jackson Pollock’s jazzy paint drippings.

My own experience is that I often take photographs to capture a sound, or recall specific visuals when listening to a location recording. I imagine this experience is quite normal.

To extend these ideas, I am currently working on a poetry film, in which I perform a reading in a specific location, and capture that place also through motion video and field recordings. The film is not yet complete, so unfortunately I cannot include it as an example in this post. But the process of developing it has been one of rich reflection on my practice as poet, composer, and photographer.

This work is ongoing and now The Noise Project is a part.

The sweetest nothing: a night whisper for my sonby: Damon

A doorway to darkness

Having sifted through the hazy layers of everyday noise as requested, I plucked out something very particular – the sound of my son as he sleeps. I have often used this sound as a meditative tool of sorts – a kind of relaxing hypnosis at the end of a stressful day. But this time I went further and swallowed the sound whole.

The result is this night whisper – two and a half minutes of spoken word with breathing.

Sleep well…


My son sleeps; and in his sleep he breathes. And I sit outside his dreams, listening in.

Perched on the edge of his night time world, I try and hear the secrets behind those rapid eyes – but he keeps it all hidden; for him to know, for me never to find out.

So instead, I gulp at the sound of each breath he takes and I swallow it down. And I taste it – not the air itself, but the resonance, the vibration, the hiss and the whistle, and it fills my belly and it wraps my heart – a candy floss tangle of wonder, and innocence, and love.

But as I consume this late-night dessert – crouching in the dark, the illumination from the landing falling across my face like the light from an opened fridge – I feel the guilt of the kitchen thief, stealing biscuits from someone else’s tin.

And the sweet taste grows bitter. And I sense his worries, his loneliness, his fear.

There is no release in a stolen dream.

So I take one final mouthful of the sound that he makes.

And then I pretend it will always taste good.

Bloom Mike Hansenby: Mike


Bloom (Senses Challenge) Mike Hansen

This synesthetic challenge allowed me to echo the spirit of Kandinsky. Kandinsky’s paintings were coloured filled expressions of the sound around him.  His synesthesia rendered him the capacity to see sound and hear colour. In this project I used the markers of spring, the melting snow and the blossoming of the flower. I feel spring is alive in colour and the Winter Aconite is nature’s early signifier of this joyous season.

I have processed a time-lapse video of the Winter Aconite, moving it into the abstract, may I say a Kandinsky approach to representation. I then appropriated Vivaldi’s “Spring” from the Four Seasons, slowed it down, sampled and processed it, through turntabling, to represent the spring I have experienced this year in Toronto. Bloom is a representation of the 2013’s painfully slow process of nature’s evolution from winter.

Warm Sun, Cool Shadeby: Richard

For us northern-hemispherers, it’s spring now. More or less. The sunlight is warm, the air is crystal clear, but the evenings and the shade are still cool. It’s as if we can’t quite believe the winter is behind us, and so there’s a sense of diffuse but cautious hope in the air.

The Subtle Lightness of Springby: Alan

In trying to think how my senses are affected by the coming of spring it is hard to isolate one sense.  Linked to emotion, both the literal and metaphorical transformation of daylight, colours, temperature, sounds and smells combine to bring me an overall sense of lightness. Everywhere the pressure of winter reseeds and spring rejuvenates animal, plant, and city.

The soundscape I have created is a walk around my neighbourhood, at evening, night, and day.  The way we hear, listen, and experience sound is influenced by many factors.  To highlight the subtle changes happening around me I filtered the recordings to reveal subtleties masked by the lo-fi din of the city. This allowed me to hear things such as fish jumping for flies in the canal, bats aerodynamics, and also to measure how different birds sing and communicate in different frequency ranges.  This I knew already, but it was pleasant discovery none the less.  It is always interesting to experience the familiar in a new light. The soundscape of a city can be a beast to live with, but discovering that there is life beyond the din is encouraging.  Maybe there is time to still reclaim some of it.

raw with traffic swingsby: jessica

i am sensitive to the blaring of lawnmowers and the highway

and sometimes the noise becomes so strong monotonous that it make me want to cry

moaning on an overpass with vehicles zooming passt feels a part of it all



mmmmmmmmmby: Allie

And there it is again
the hum
it vibrates through the hull
and into my bones

I feel you shift your weight
back, and the wind falls
stronger on my face

it whistles past my ears
and I get chills past the back
of my neck

the hum fades
you shift forward again
the moment is gone

The Senses: Over, Around & Throughby: Elizabeth



Thinking about taking in everything around me all at once came out in an image of a twisted, mangled mess. I may even go back into this drawing and continue little shape and line additions throughout the week… that would be quite symbolic of how any stimulus can continue to affect me days after the initial experience.

“Did you see that?” or “Did you hear that?” or “Do you smell that?” are very often questions I find myself asking others. And their answer is usually “No, what are you talking about?”

Sensory overload is a commonplace occurrence for me. I see a lot, hear a lot and smell a lot, not always things I want to see, hear or smell, but nonetheless, it is part of my experience.

Noise challenge # 5: Sensesby: Nikita

Sounds remind

You of familiar sounds

Of past experiences.

The swoosh of the broom

Can be the sand blowing

Or the stroke of a large paintbrush, maybe.

The texture can be the grains of sand

Or salt.

The scratching sounds

Familiar to the eerie sensation of blackboards being scratched

Or familiar to the heavy sensation of feet dragging against the pavement.

Do sounds have a texture, a flavour or a scent?

Or do memories awake the senses?


Supertramp: Breakfast in Americaby: Kathryn

As soon as I hear any song from Supertramp’s Breakfast in America, I remember Sunday mornings with my husband. I smell coffee brewing in the press. I taste pancakes with Quebec maple syrup. And it works both ways; when I eat pancakes, I hear the album. To view my visual entry for Challenge #5: The Senses, click over to my website, kathrynjamieson.ca.

separasthesiaby: charles

Oh, it’s called separasthesia. I’m pretty sure I have Separasthesia. I’m curious about your separasthesia. maybe some weird obscure form of separasthesia?? so happy you can join me in the separasthesia club. discussions of separasthesia as being an evolutionary trait. The establishment separasthesia. personally i blame the psychologists that gave me separasthesia. It’s basically artificial separasthesia! Blaring #Separasthesia in the car because it’s the right thing to do. Separasthesia Manifestations Of Energy Paintings. some universal experience of separasthesia. I just liked “Sepaerasthesia” on Vimeo.

watch on youtube or watch on vimeo

Noise Challenge 5by: Cath

American philosopher Arnold Berleant (2005) writes ‘Aesthetics, as a discipline, retains a bond with its origins in the 18th century, when it was named the ‘science of sensory knowledge’…and he notes ‘Much has come to supplement this sensory base – factors such as meaning, memory, metaphor, symbol and history – but it is important to reaffirm the central place that sense perception holds in aesthetic experience, for the senses are essential and indeed central to the study of art and natural beauty…the early emphasis of aesthetics on beauty has changed with the evolution of the arts, and today the field embraces a wide range of qualities and features of perceptual experience that may be termed in some fashion ‘aesthetic’. These include the ugly, the grotesque, the comic or playful, as well as the conventionally pleasing.’

Noise challenge Number Fiveby: Thendara

If this flash player is not loading for you please click the link below to play your audio file.

number five

number five

birds spring is birds…

and baby rats.

a montage of oddities- what does it mean?

I honestly don’t know.