Julia Varela investigates the materiality of images in the age of digital technologies. Often assumed to be an immaterial object, the image is a latent potentiality whose visual representation relies on a medium. Part of her research involves contact with retailers of state-of-the-art screens and electronic devices that interpret visual content for the consumption and transmission of images. Varela’s video piece originates from a photograph sent to her by an e-commerce retailer based in Shanghai.

This low-quality, trivial-looking snapshot is processed by a photo-optic synthesizer that encodes it into sound waves. An algorithmic bar reads and interprets the image. The visual data stored in the photograph mutates into sound and its waves reach out to vibrate our inner ear.