Sounds of the Americans is an audiovisual experiment involving photographer Robert Frank‘s landmark book,The Americans. The following sounds and accompanying images are the result of a 2-step transformative process:
- Convert each photograph into audio using specialized software
- Take the same audio and feed it through a spectrograph in order to recreate the original image
Photographs (or any other form of imagery) can be converted into audio. The photo’s tones and forms are translated into various frequencies. Depending on the visual complexity of the image, the sounds generated will range from tranquil to chaotic, from peaceful to ominous, from soft to severe.
We can also regenerate the original photograph using its respective audio. With the aid of spectrograph software, the sound of each photo creates a crude and murky approximation of the initial image. The level of degradation varies depending on how the sound gets interpreted by the software. The result is a type of image that is both familiar and yet no longer photographic in its nature.
All 83 photographs contained within the pages of The Americans have undergone this process and are presented here in the book’s original running order. While many of their details have become obscured to the point of being lost, the layer of audio allows the viewer/listener to experience the images in an entirely new manner, perhaps leading to different interpretations and unintended meanings.