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Now You Can "See" Birdsong In This Trippy Digital Animation

An multi-media artist fuses sight and sound to create "audio life forms."

  • <p>In-progress sketches</p>
  • <p>Ice Particles in XSI.</p>
  • <p>Particles polygonized.</p>
  • 01 /04

    In-progress sketches

  • 02 /04


  • 03 /04

    Ice Particles in XSI.

  • 04 /04

    Particles polygonized.

Imagine if you could see bird song. The "audio life forms" of Australian artist Andy Thomas makes such a thing possible. His multi-media visualizations, which fuse photos and sound from the natural world, are like synesthetic explosions. First, Thomas photographs animals and plants from a variety of natural landscapes. Then, using 3-D visualization software, he breaks down the images into their composite parts and colors. After he fuses them into bizarre terrestrial life forms, he feeds audio recordings of the forest into the computer. The sounds—say of a chirping hummingbird or singing canary—cause the visualizations to shape-shift. We are hearing the birds, but we're watching a visualization of the bird's voice; each chirp resembles a small bursting firework. Thomas describes his work as a "corruption" of nature, but this is more suggestive of metamorphosis—a technological, natural collage.

Nightingale and Canary, Thomas's most recent project, used bird song from the archives of the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision. The animations were commissioned by Europeana Creative and received funding from the EU.