Watch a Renaissance Painting Explode into Sound Particles

Athens-based new media artist Yiannis Kranidiotis turns Renaissance painter Rafael’s 'Madonna del Prato' into 10,000 tiny cubes full of sound.

Sound and color may seem, at least superficially, to have very little in common. But as Athens-based artist and physicist Yiannis Kranidiotis points out in his audiovisual project, Ichographs MdelP, in which colors from Rafael’s Madonna del Prato ("Madonna of the Meadow") decompose into audio, both sounds and colors can be described as waves.

“There are areas of sound and color (light) that humans can perceive with their eyes and ears (hearing and visible range) and areas where we need special equipment (like infrasound—ultrasound and infrared—ultraviolet ranges),” Kranidiotis tells The Creators Project. “As a physicist, I was always fascinated by these common properties and I was investigating ways to highlight and juxtapose them.”

In Ichographs MdelP, Kranidiotis disintegrates Rafael’s painting into 10,000 cubic particles, each carrying a frequency relevant to its color (HSV hue value).

As the virtual camera moves around particles floating in a white aether, the viewer hears the sound of the colors/frequency generator particles flying toward the canvas to assemble the painting. Warm colors like red are higher frequencies, and cold colors like blue are lower frequencies.

Kranidiotis created Ichographs MdelP—part of the Ichographs series of artworks, where colors and therefore image can transformed into sound—in C++ using openFrameworks for the visuals and then Pure Data for the audio. All of the sound data (frequency amplitudes) were sent from the openFrameworks software via OSC to a Pure Data patch with a set of 600 sine wave generators for producing the sound. Kranidiotis created the visuals using After Effects.

“The loudness of each particle is proportional to the distance from viewer,” Kranidiotis explains. “As a result, when we pass over the red clothes of Madonna, we hear the high 'red' frequencies and when we approach the blue sky we hear the low 'blue' frequencies.”

Kranidiotis selected Madonna del Prato because he wanted a painting from the Renaissance that would help in generating a high contrast between classical aesthetics and the digital transformations he triggered.

“This painting is very harmonic, with a pyramidal structure and full of blue and red colors that help in the creating a complex and interesting audio result,” Kranidiotis says. “It’s an opportunity for the viewer to reveal a latent version of the old masterpiece. As we pass through the various color/frequency layers, we can investigate the connections between classical and digital era aesthetics.”

“The final artwork is a contemporary amalgamation of the old painting and the modern abstraction methods, a harmonious dialog between the old and the new, the analog and the digital,” he adds.

Ichographs MdelP from Yiannis Kranidiotis on Vimeo.

Click here to see more of Yiannis Kranidiotis’s work.


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