Ever wish you could see sounds? Now you can.

The picture above is the call of a white beaked dolphin. Below is the song of a humpback whale.

Sounds like these – being sounds – are obviously usually heard, not seen; but the notes and tones seen here have been converted into a visual medium by Mark Fischer, a computer programmer and expert in marine acoustics, using a tool known as a wavelet transform.

Historically, wavelet transforms have been used to convert time-series data like acoustic pressure signals (some of them at frequencies outside the range of human hearing) into more analyzable, and therefore useful, forms. Recently, they've been used to this end in research surrounding whale communication and the calls of birds and insects. Above, the sound of crickets chirping has been converted into a burst of violet. Below, the song of a Northern Cardinal forms a looping vortex of yellow and purple.

Often these audible → visible conversions result in a black and white image. Here, they're beautifully color-coded. Violets correspond to high frequencies, greens and blues to medium ones. Low frequencies are depicted in red, as they are in the baritone song of the Northern minke whale, pictured here.

Via Fischer's website, Aguasonic Acoustics:

The intriguing sounds made by the orders Cetacea and Avia invite us into a universe ripe for our exploration. Focusing upon the interconnection between the two formerly distinct realms of sound and image, the artist aspires to let the sound itself tell the story of what it may look like. A sound can be seen as a multi-dimensional energetic expression, and is given the freedom to emerge through highly tuned ‘lenses’ designed using mathematics. A wide spectrum of color mapping lends contextual representation suggesting each sound’s intrinsic character. Once immersed in this domain, we confront deeper mysteries still. Are these merely patterns, or could they also prompt the beginning of a new perception of sound that challenges previous notions about its origin, structure and meaning?

See more of Fischer's work on his website.

[FYFD | New Scientist | Daily Mail]