seeing the sounds of Iceland
connecting to one of my favorite places

A synaesthetic exploration of my temporary home

Taking advantage of the opportunity that travel provides to be out of one’s element, explore, and learn about a new place also lets me experience my synesthesia with a fresh mind’s eye as I take in new sensory information.

From my first glimpse during a layover in 2011, I've been fascinated with Iceland. First a week in 2012, then spending six weeks in a little southern, inland village at Gullkistan Center for Creativity in 2015. Then, during the summer of 2017, I lived in two very different parts of Iceland. First, as a resident at Listhús in remote north central Iceland, I was in a small working class fishing village, accessible only by mountain tunnels. In July, I moved to a suburb of the capital in the southwest and lived in the commercial harbor front at Hafnarborg Centre for Culture and Fine Art. This contrast sparked the idea for this project.

I captured the color, shape, and motion of my mind's eye as it revealed its consistent, automatic responses to a selection of sounds that have become part of the experience of living in Iceland for me: grumpy arctic terns and playful snipe in the air, rain on abundant metal rooftops, the ocean hitting cold black sand beaches, a myriad of tiny streams running from mountain snow to river, young lambs bleating, the traditional three-stringed langspil instrument, a cappella folk songs, a ship’s dull horn near a harbor, and more.


Tiny Lamb

Two Langspils

Langspils are simple 3-stringed small wooden instruments that can be played with a short bow or with the fingers. Recorded live at the Icelandic Folk Music Centre in Siglufjördur, and special thanks to Erik Higgins.

Fjörd, The North Atlantic

Rain on a Corrugated Metal Roof

River at the Base of Mountains

Large Ship's Horn

Common Snipe Drumming its Wings

An Icelandic Horse at the Tölt

The tölt is a gait unique to the purebred horses all over Iceland. It is a coincidence that my visualization somewhat looks like partial hoofprints. Many hollow noises, like these steel-shod hooves on a road, have partial circles or similar forms.

A Cappella Folk Song

This is a short clip of a "quint," in which the two-part harmony is either in unison or in a fifth interval. Recorded during a rehearsal at the Icelandic Folk Music Centre in Siglufjördur.