Serj Tankian merges sight and sound

System of a Down frontman Serj Tankian has taken on a slightly different career direction in recent years in developing a cross-sensory art exhibition that features a range of original paintings that have accompanying soundtracks.

Dubbed Eye for Sound, the exhibition has already entertained audiences abroad and now Metro magazine and Asahi have brought Tankian’s initiative to Silo Six at Wynard Quarter.

The exhibition on show until 22 March includes both music and art from Tankian, Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello (artwork by Scott Hepburn) and other local artists, including Bic & Boh Runga, Shannon Novak, and Mardo El-Noor, who have all composed their own music and created their own accompanying artworks for the exhibition.

To unlock the music related to the artwork, visitors are required to download the Eye for Sound app and then scan the artwork. The app automatically recognises the visual art and then proceeds to play the accompanying music, giving the viewer an experience that blurs the lines between the senses.      

In an interview with Metro, Tankian said: “I’m aiming to have people see the music and hear the art. Using a modern app, Eye For Sound, we’re able to take Kandinsky’s synesthesia to a whole new level … Living in New Zealand a good part of the year, I am lucky to have befriended really cool musicians and visual artists, some of whom will be participating in the group. Everyone is excited about the prospect of building a bridge between visual art and music and showing off pieces never seen before.”

Synesthesia refers to the situation whereby a sensory experience triggers a reaction in a different sense. And this blurring of the lines between the senses is something that artists have been experimenting with for some time.

Recently Sonos introduced a new logo, which with the help of an optical illusion takes on the appearance of a booming speaker when web users scroll up or down.

Ukrainian artist and performer Kseniya Simonova​ has also garnered online attention for her poignant performance during Ukraine’s got talent in which she told the story of World War II through sand art while a haunting score by Morton Valence played in the background.    


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