PIXELSYNTH
BY Weronika JURKIEWICZ — October 18, 2021

If you ever wondered what your black-and-white photos might sound like, look no further. PIXELSYNTH, a musical web toy created by artist and programmer Olivia Jack, can turn monochrome images into audio output. After the initial disappointment of learning that their photos have very little in common with Vivaldi’s Clarae stellar scintillate but instead produce more of a Stravinsky-like cacophony of sounds, users can create a music track by rotating the image, drawing over it, and even adjusting its brightness and size. They can also choose from thirteen pre-loaded images, which include drawings by Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basiquiat.

Inspired by the ANS Synthesizer created by Russian engineer Evgeny Murzin in 1937, which is essentially a tangible version of PIXELSYNTH, this browser-based synthesizer scrolls through an image with a cursor and reads any white space as note-on. The lower the white information’s location on the image, the lower the tone. The velocity of the note depends on the transparency of the object.

PIXELSYNTH may not be the next big thing in the music industry, but it is a fun way to experiment with image and sound. Plus, the ability to listen to your own face is rather priceless.