A Google project is born that lets you hear the sound of Kandinsky's colors

Google launches a new app that allows you to... step inside a Vasily Kandinsky painting and hear its sounds, which are compatible with those the artist probably heard while working on the painting.

It is called Play a Kandinsky, literally “Play a Kandinsky,” the new Google Arts & Culture project: the goal is to experience sensations similar to those experienced by the great Vasily Kandinsky (Moscow, 1866 - Neuilly-sur-Seine, 1944). Indeed, Kandinsky was convinced that colors had sounds and that there were strong analogies between art and music. “A painter who does not find satisfaction in the mere representation, however artistic, of his desire to express his inner life,” he wrote in his celebrated The Spiritual in Art, “can only envy the ease with which music, the least material of today’s arts, achieves this goal. The painter seeks to apply the methods of music to his own art. And from this comes the modern desire for rhythm in painting, for abstract and mathematical construction, for the repetition of color notes, for the drafting of colors in motion.”

Each color, as well as a sound, expresses a feeling that touches the soul of the subject (as well as that of the painter, of course). Play a Kandinsky thus seeks to bring out the Russian painter’s theories, helping users to “read” according to these feelings one of his masterpieces, Yellow-Red-Blue of 1925, preserved at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. The program was created using machine learning techniques that analyzed Kandinsky’s color theories to create an interactive experience capable of interpreting the artist’s ideas by returning sounds compatible with those that the painter himself had probably been able to hear while working on the painting.

After an initial “experiment” with which the app (reachable at this address) proposes some associations of sounds and colors, and then of sounds and shapes (for example, a yellow rectangle is associated with the joyful sound of a trumpet, while a blue circle is matched with the calm and soothing sound of an organ), the analysis of the painting, divided into areas corresponding to different sounds, is carried on. Finally, the user can select their mood to see which sounds and areas of Kandinsky’s work best describe how they feel today.

Playa Kandinsky is part of a larger Google project dedicated to the Russian painter, Sounds Like a Kandinsky, with which different aspects of his life and work are explored, with talks by experts, and even some games (there is for example also an app that allows you to... hang a Kandinsky in one’s home thanks to augmented reality).

Pictured: Vasily Kandinsky, Yellow-Red-Blue (1925; oil on canvas, 128 x 201.5 cm; Paris, Centre Pompidou)

A Google project is born that lets you hear the sound of Kandinsky's colors
A Google project is born that lets you hear the sound of Kandinsky's colors

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