Anyone who’s been to a rave—remember those?—can testify to the overpowering sensation of being able to hear colors and touch sounds. The masterfully minimal
Lux (2003) by shadowy Austrian duo Granular Synthesis—the strongest piece in Eyebeam’s new exhibit exploring synesthesia—reaches a rave’s immersion sans the pummeling bass and dodgy pills. The best way to view Lux is to lie on the floor and be bathed by its warm waves of glowing light in slowly shifting colors. After a few minutes you become ensconced in a radiant force field of energy, while a gentle throb suffuses your body.
In Cologne artist Thom Kubli’s Monochrome Transporter (2003), blips on a smallish blue screen are synced with a drone that changes at a glacial pace. The idea, which echoes Phill Niblock’s more successful audiovisual experiments, is that minute changes soon become more noticeable—but it’s too slight to work its subtle magic.
The exhibit is anchored by some key early works of video art exploring synesthesia. These curiously antiquated pieces, like Steina Vasulka playing a “video violin” and Nam June Paik and Jud Yalkut’s Beatles Electronique, feel like relics now that we all expect to be relentlessly stimulated and inundated by sensory information.