Synesthesia : An audiovisual sequencing game
Synesthesia is an audiovisual environment where users can compose music and visuals in a
reflexive generative system. The possibilities offered by digital technology to synchronize the
generation of audio and video processes are rarely explored in either sequencing software or
games. In this project users would engage with a sequencing system that is also part of an
abstract puzzle game. As the player progresses the environment evolves and reacts to the
developing audio track which will likewise be effected by changes in the game world. This
reflexive process between audio and video is guided and manipulated by the player allowing them
to explore a vast range of different sonic environments.
Some video games/art works use audio-to-video synchronisation techniques. Vib Ribbon (PS2)
and Rez (PS2,DC) present abstract visons of such relationships whereas ‘Bemani’ games provide
a more mainstream approach. It is rare that such projects venture far into the realm of creating a
generative and holistic a/v system. Media artist Toshio Iwai has created art works that allow users
to ‘play’ with sound and visuals but most ‘interacive’ av art only provides a very brief and
shallow experience of this kind.
a) Realtime sequencing
Using a pool of audio samplesselected specifically for a particular environment the player will
be involved in the process of sequencing rhythms and melodies in realtime. The progress of the
player through a level will relate to their interaction with these systems. This sequencing will be
represented in a visual form integral to the game landscape.
b) Digital Signal Processing (DSP)
Realtime DSP effects and synthesis could be used to ensure that the audio generated is always
unique. Audio-Art applications such as MAX/MSP, Nato and Jitter have shown how realtime
processing can create a myriad of experimental and atmospheric effects. Sounds could be filtered
according to player energy levels or modulated to represent certain game states.
c) Image Synthesis
Using audio to generate imagery is a common technique used in PC sound players (I-Tunes,
WinAmp, Windows Media Player e.t.c.). A combination of FFT analysis and image quantising
would allow the visuals of the game to relate more instrinsincly to the evolving audio track. This
would result in a visual environment that would reflect the players progress and technique.
Synesthesia could be devloped in a number of ways and has the facility to be a scalable system.
Obviously the most visually lush incarnations would be based on high end technology such as
consoles and PCs. However handheld systems and mobile platforms also offer a good opportunity
to create such an a/v sequencing game. There is also the ambition of creating networked versions
of the software where players ‘jam’ with each other either in competition or collaboratively.
Synestesia is an ambitious project that aims to create an interactive environment true to its name.
Melodies and images interweave in a virtual space where the user plays to conduct and direct the
flow of audio-visual data.