Sound and Colour in Crystalline (Michel Gondry, 2011)

This video adopts a synesthetic approach in its use of colour and sound: the use of colour represents or echoes the music itself. This blurred relationship between the two is used to highlight particular aspects of the music. Colour and music are clearly linked throughout, actively interacting with one another in order to create a clear visual representation of the aural aspect.

The video, set in space, achieves this interaction in a number of ways, largely through demonstrating an explicit, direct relationship. Here both the aural and the visual are intrinsically linked, dependent on one another. This dependency is shown overtly throughout the video, most notably so during the video’s opening moments. Showing a planet as the music starts, bright rays of light are shot into craters upon the planet’s surface, filling each crater with pools of yellow light. As the craters fill, the pool appears to reverberate, effectively mimicking the appearance of an audio speaker when music is played. These opening moments operate in a number of ways: firstly each ray of light shoots and lands in time with the music, their landing resembling the beats of music, allowing the colour itself to create its own rhythmic pattern. These rays thus function as a pictorial representation of the music itself, directly enforcing a link between the visual and aural experience. At a more simplistic level, the ‘audio speaker’ appearance the landing of rays create links the viewer to the well-known image of a speaker itself, reinforcing the idea that this is, despite the colours used, ultimately an aural experience.

This relationship between colour and sound is sustained throughout the video, its link carried across in the video’s use of animation. Frequently the video depicts a number of roots growing and moving within the planet’s core; these roots, upon breaking though the surface, emerge as crystals. These roots, whilst still in the conceptual form, rather than the physical crystal form, dance and move in direct correlation to the music. The roots, initially yellow, later become blue, orange and pink. The use of the yellow directly links the imagery to the yellow rays seen during the video’s opening, whilst the introduction of different colours operates both visually and aurally.

The use of a greater range of colours reflects the more complex nature the music itself is undertaking. When the music, as seen at the beginning of the video, is relatively simplistic, only one or two colours are shown. As the music becomes both faster and more complex, a greater range of both colour and visual animation is used. The new colours signal the video’s progression, whilst echoing earlier imagery, creating a rhythmic feel to the visual element of the video.





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