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An Instrument Translates Landscape Paintings Into Music

Art can now serenade you with a melody.

This article was originally published on May 14,2014 but we think it still rocks!

In an ongoing series that stretches as long as some vistas, multidisciplinary artist Barbara Bartos uses a mechanical music box to transform paintings of landscapes into sweet melodies. With her Soundscape Instrument, Bartos can translate the heights of Toffia, Italy into a serene summer-time tune. After painting detailed accounts of her travels, Bartos perforates each gouache according to the prevailing features of its landscape: a Finland forest, gets punched through the contours of its greenery and tree trunks, a watery depiction gets perforated along the coastline.


As Bartos explains, the process of creating each painting-score goes from the visual to the audible, thus the resulting sound is not composed in the traditional sense, but generated by the image via a translation process in order to make it legible by the mechanism. In this way, users are able to run each gouache in four different ways—forwards, backwards, forward upside down, and backward upside down—producing four different melodies.

Once a piece is perforated, it is run through the laser-cut plywood box, creating a type of painting-score you heard earlier (and which reminds us of this

science kit


Soundscape Instrument. Finland: Archipelago


Barbara Bartos




The project consists of seven landscapes-scores, but will grow as Bartos explores new spaces. It’s important to note that Bartos doesn’t just see this project as a travel diary, but as a translation project, “one that reveals an unexpected synchronicity not only between visual and audible perception, but also between nature and culture.” We don't know about you, but we want to "hear" the landscapes of van Gogh and Monet.

To learn more about the artist click here.


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