Are paintings reserved for the seeing, and are aesthetic experiences primarily visual? We propose the prototype Join Senses that translates colors to sound and explores blind and visually impaired people’s challenges and experiences.

Join Senses translates a painting’s colors to sound by applying the notion of crossing modalities. The theory for crossing modalities, in this case the visual and auditory, is that of artificial synesthesia, which literally means the joining of senses.

Colors can be translated to sound, as there is a logical correlation and as they both have frequencies and are measured in Hertz. The translation of colors to sound in Join Senses is based on Neil Harbisson’s sonochromatic music scale that maps color frequencies to sound frequencies. The system is based on the colorspace HSB (hue, saturation and brightness), which is mapped to the sound output frequency, amplitude and octave.

Join Senses aids blind people in interpreting paintings in museums. The design consists of a physical artefact that has two main functions: Sensing a painting’s colors translated to sound, and an elaborate audio guide describing the painting. Join Senses thereby provides blind and visually impaired people with a tool to interpret paintings independently. With Join Senses we want to underline that paintings are not reserved for the seeing.

Dansk Blindesamfund
Dansk Blindesamfunds Ungdom
Statens Museum for Kunst

Andrea Krebs Paus
Hannah Kathrine Andersen