Synesthesia is a gigantic angler fish with a portal inside her mouth to a dimension in which sight and sound are one and the same. The light bulb of the angler is actually a microphone and anyone walking by quickly realizes that any sound they make is being turned into graphics and drawn inside the maws of the giant fish. In addition, inspirational quotes appear in the visualization and then melt into the graphics.
When assembled she stands over 6ft tall and 10 ft long, and is composed of over two hundred independently fabricated parts. The frame was built from brake lines and junction blocks; wooden blocks with brass threaded inserts embedded in facets cut to be perpendicular to the adjoining frame segment. The screen is built similarly and composed of eleven projection mapped sections spanning about three feet all together. One of the great things about this design is that the projector is inside Synthia herself and the screen is lit up from behind. This means that anyone enjoying this piece can walk right up and interact with her without worrying about obstructing the light from the projector. The generative graphics were made possible with custom MilkDrop presets that responded best to frequencies in the human vocal harmonic.
Synesthesia was my first art install. Designed in the winter of 2015 and debuted at Resonate Chicago 2016 that following spring, I still consider Synesthesia to be one of my greatest achievements. The original idea came around after a night of fun with a microphone and projector where my friends and I took turns drawing out voices with a visualization setup. It was a fun and novel experience and one I wanted to share with a wider audience. The design I wanted would need a fair bit of CNC work to make each of the ten “teeth segments” and I would have to implement the first major upgrade to my desktop CNC mill. This involved replacing the tiny rotary tool with a handpiece driven by a 1/3 hp motor through a flexshaft.
Other challenges included cutting and flaring about a hundred brake lines by hand, and cutting the junction blocks with very specific sides and screwing in the brass threaded inserts. I did most of the work myself over the span of about 400 hours across 5 months, however, I could not finish this work without help from Gerard Sabb, who painted the teeth and eyes, and Michelle Ross, who sowed together all the large stretch fabrics and made the fins. Synesthesia was assembled only five times for various events around the midwest and every time has enjoyed a glowing reception. This is the piece that first showed me how anything is possible if you try hard enough, and let me experience the love of watching people discover and interact with my art.