Synaesthetic Syntax II: Seeing Sound / Hearing Vision

In this second symposium for Expanded Animation at Ars Electronica, we continue our exploration of affect: how animation is felt through sensory information processed by the body. For the second year, this takes a focus on inter-relationships between hearing and seeing.

From the early pioneers, both the audio and the visual components of moving image have been intrinsic to the medium. According to experimental filmmaker Walter Ruttmann (1887-1941), the ‘music of light has always been and will remain the essence of cinema’. Another pioneering avant-garde filmmaker, Germaine Dulac (1882-1942), connected this with movement, ‘cinema and music have this in common: in both movement alone can create emotion by its rhythm and development’.

Our intention with this symposium is to go beyond superficial, formal connections between sound and animated images to think about how the senses are engaged and thus the central role of the body in engaging with perception and experience. Indeed, philosopher, Maurice Merleau Ponty argues that synaesthetic connections –  the cross-wiring between all our senses – is at the root of perception, how we understand the world. In using digital technology we are working with a synaesthetic medium in which all sense perceptions can be codified as inputs and expressed in a common language of zeros and ones that can be fluidly interchanged.

In raising issues about the senses and the body, we are also responding to these peculiar times of pandemic when so much of our interactions have been mediated through a screen rather than through direct experience and physical encounter. We have chosen a range of different speakers who responded to our themes in different ways and I do hope you find all of the talks thought provoking and inspiring.

For more information go to

All talks are archived on the Expanded Animation You Tube channel.

Birgitta Hosea/Juergen Hagler, co-organisers