Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Listening to paintings

Is beauty dependent on the medium which transmits it? Is a beautiful painting itself beautiful or is it the representation of something which is beautiful? These questions come to mind often when seeing "A thing of beauty".

If one assumes that beauty is in itself an independent thing then one can assume that beautiful things may be translated from one medium to another. Can my visually impaired friends one day see a beautiful painting and understand it?

Introducing audio sight.A piece of software which I wrote to let people without sight experience paintings. A painting goes in one end and an mp3 file comes out the other. How cool is that? The idea was to translate beauty from one medium to another. In a minute we see how that is done but first we have a look at some samples.

That was Vincent Van Gogh's Starry Night converted to sound. It made some sort of sense, although if you look at the things I had obtained in earlier versions of the software you would be very surprised.

Now for the method.

A simple enough task, given that the picture is already digitized. First we re size the picture to smaller dimensions in order to have some sort of melody going on.

After that we start taking one column at a time from the left side. Each pixel in the column dictates what note to play and how long to play it.

With that as we proceed from left to right, we obtain a melodious sounding audio file, which is dictated by the painting and not just something random.

Is beauty dependent on the medium?

The audio did not sound very melodious to me even though I am no art fan and so I conclude that the beauty of a painting lies in the beholder of the painting itself.