Synaesthetic Synergy: Sharing Sensations through Sights and Sounds

If artistic expression allows people to convey or communicate feelings, if it gives people the opportunity to share a sensation, then that’s what I aim for, and perhaps the most I could ask for. 


It’s evident that there’s a well of thought and conception brimming below the surface of what appears to be odd videos of free-flowing organic textures and glitchy light-play. The manipulation of minute fractals or alternative textures become larger than life or represented in a ‘defamiliarised form and context’ throughout Pupil Visuals’ dynamic body of work. Drawing from his own experiences and that of synaesthetic experience, Pupil’s expression and creation of such visual artwork explores the relations between sound, image, time and subjectivity.

It’s in the hope that his visceral visual interpretations contribute to the sharing of experiences between people – “hopefully between strangers”, he adds – that Pupil gets a kick out of what he does.

A screenshot during COSMOS. A visual accompaniment to Dave Marian’s hour-long set.

Despite struggling between the title of a video and projection artist or a VJ in describing what he does, it’s very clear that sound and music has its role to play. In fact, it’s in seeking to use the interlinking relationship between sight and sound to capitalise on people’s shared experiences that Pupil is urged out of bed each and every day.

No. I lie.

Breakfast is more than enough reason to clamber out the sheets, he says.

The Cape Town-based freelancer’s work incorporates the realms of video, photography, projection, 3D mapping and light installations. Having performed at numerous events and venues in South Africa, Berlin and Zurich as well as having past work featured by The Creators’ Project and, most recently, working on a project with Cape Lasers that Pupil infers his love for collaboration without saying it.

“It’s with collaboration that you can contribute where you want to, and practice your passion. [However] finding a way to monetize working with others without losing the essence of what you set out to do is the real challenge.”

Having first met the man behind the literal scenes of sound at a Christian Tiger School event last year, I was instantly engulfed and captivated in the relationship of sight and sound within a performance context. Pupil emphasizes that as much of a creator that he is, he is a viewer too. And according to him, a viewer who can’t help but look at screens and finds himself seeking to describe the audio-visual connection during performances when it isn’t as obvious.

I resonate deeply with such habits.  Now, more than ever, we are constantly bombarded with visual content throughout our daily life. This doesn’t stop once you step into a club or event venue – it becomes more intense. Gone are the days of a few lights or lasers wandering about the ceiling – there needs to be a screen!

The view from the crowd during Kat La Kat & Ady Fleming’s set at ATOM

Pupil reveals that the inner workings of his visual interpretations become a process of analysing music into its different layers, and associating each audio layer with a visual component. Yet, he raises an interesting point in considering that visual components in performance aren’t always a good idea…

“Although it has in some scenes become the norm to have a visual component, there are, and should remain, places without it. I don’t believe that more stuff going on is necessarily better, nor that a more ‘complete’ or ‘immersive’ environment is necessarily more meaningful.”

I’d say it’s the addition of movement to the visual component of a performance that brings out the impulsive and mesmerizing nature of what Pupil creates. Or maybe it’s the impact of the real-time manipulations of the visual component moulded by the surrounding sound. But what about the incorporation of vivid colours and the intersection of organic shapes and geometric figures? I guess that’s the beauty of it all – there is no right or wrong answer. In fact, the mere instance of you trawling about in your thoughts for an explanation means Pupil has accomplished what he set out to do.

Pupil seeks to subject the audience to share in a new experience of sensations. He describes the themes of his work as ‘synaesthetic experience on one level, synergy on another’. This highlights the intermingling concepts of sound, image, time and subjectivity, while relying on the hope than such stimulations will result in thoughts and feelings other than what is intentionally represented.

A man engages with the interactive art installation at ATOM

Feeling curious and inspired, I went along to one of the ATOM events held at Waiting Room where Pupil Visuals applies his trade of creating, mixing and mapping custom visual content. Much more than a mere dub-techno event showcasing Cape Town’s underground sounds, ATOM’s aurora is warm and welcoming. It’s engaging audience and interactive art installation pay true testament to its status as a space of innovation and unity.

ATOM is indeed a creative collective that nurtures interpersonal engagement through a synergistic exhilaration of the senses and mind for it as much a visual experience as it is sonically founded – a testament to Pupil’s artistic aims.


Keep up to date with Pupil Visuals’ latest work via FacebookInstagram or Vimeo.

Cover image sourced via PUPIL VISUALS’ website, further photos and video done by Arron Moos.


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