Hearing Touch: Architectural Synesthesia

Program: Columbia University BA Architecture
Semester: Spring 2010
Studio: Introduction to Architecture: Perceptions Studio
Critic: Madeline Schwartzman
Materials: Basswood, Latex, Museum Board, String

The project started as an exploration into immobilizing one's own with a basswood structure. The immobilization device focused on isolating and restricting the movement of the five fingertips in order to restrict the movement of the entire hand.

The project then took on another task as students were asked to introduce at least two of the five senses into the next stage of their sensory, body mechanics exploration. Focusing on the mechanics of our fingers and the use of fingers as sensory tools, the final project developed into an arm structure which allowed the user  to read the sound vibrations in objects they touched and transmute those vibrations into auditory sound waves which could be heard. Inspired by animals which use sound energy and vibrations in alternative ways, the arm device's fingertip receptors capture sound and transmute the sound energy along strings. These strings vibrate and carry the information up the arm to an ear receptor which transmutes the sound energy back into auditory sound waves.

The device allows the user to perceive sound that usually goes unnoticed by the human ear. It combines two senses, touch and sound, into one; literally allowing the user to hear what they touch. The device ultimately creates an artificial synesthetic phenomenon.