AEIUO (2017)
Video Animation, 5:24

AEIUO aims to question the relationship between sound and image, asking: is it possible to visually evoke a sound without using a soundtrack?

In graphic design, the sound component often comes at the end of the creative process after one has created animations in complete silence. AEIUO works oppositely, starting from sounds in order to create images. The goal is to make the viewer hear sounds through a series of silent images, specifically in the format of the animated GIF. Inspired by the graphics and gridlines of comic books, AEIUO speaks to how digital tools have allowed us to animate our daily lives—for example, in the speech bubbles of instant messenger.

The project’s starting point is Arthur Rimbaud’s poem “Voyelles”: “A black, E white, I red, U green, O blue: vowels, I shall tell, one day, of your mysterious origins.” The poem reveals a particular case of synesthesia, the neurological phenomenon by which multiple senses connect. As Claude Lévi-Strauss points out in Look, Listen, Read (1993), Rimbaud facilitates a fusion of sounds and colors in his poem. Drawing from Rimbaud and Levi-Strauss, AEIUO plays with this form of synesthesia through acts of reading, onomatopoeia, movement, anticipation, and sonic symbols such as the atomic bomb – a visual that bears increased significance in today’s political climate.

Rimbaud translation by Oliver Bernard

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