The Synesthesia Glasses are an experimental sensory manipulation tool that allow the wearer to experience what it might be like to have synesthesia. By cross feeding the sonic and visual senses, using augmented reality technology, the glasses create a hallucinatory experience.
Scientific research indicates that newborn children perceive all their sensory impressions as one whole. When we grow up, our organs begin to specialize, the eyes focus on seeing, the ears focus on hearing, the nose focuses on smelling, etc. The brain gets more organized and as a result the senses start to separate. In a small percentage of human beings this separation does not fully emerge and a cross-connection of two or more senses is retained. This phenomenon, synesthesia, opens a door into understanding some aspects of human consciousness. How do our different senses contribute to our understanding of the world around us? And, how does our brain bind these separated perceptions into one concept?
In creating the Synesthesia Glasses the aim was to make a device that would allow someone to experience how their sense of perception changes when the input of one sense-modality is cross-fed into another one. While the near future of wearable computing and the development of devices such as Google Glass are exciting, the current application of this technology is pretty mundane, if not outright boring. In creating this piece, part of the investigation was about what the future of drugs could be like. Modern variations of Gysin and Burroughs’s Dreamachine, using flicker and binaural beats, have been around for quite some time now, but not much else has been created in terms of digital drugs. When wearing the glasses the surrounding environment takes on a new shape, movements trigger changes in the sonic sphere, and sounds translate into disruptions of the visual space. Suddenly, a short walk becomes a fascinating experience in which a blinking light or a flurry of music can have a dramatic effect.
The Synesthesia Glasses stand in a long tradition of artistic exploration of synesthesia through painting, music, color organs, visual music, and, in more recent times, live cinema. There are also many accounts of artists, poets, and writers who have experimented with drug induced synesthesia, and who've incorporated these experiences into their work. The glasses give an individual the opportunity to instantly experience a synesthesia-like state and explore their surroundings through this new perceptional model.
The Synesthesia Glasses were developed in collaboration with Vuzix and make use of one of the Vuzix WRAP 920AR+ headset.
Many thanks to: MEGAN MAY DAALDER | DAVID LEONARD | GABRIEL NOGUEZ