00

Sounds of the Americans is an audiovisual experiment involving photographer Robert Frank's landmark book, The Americans. The following sounds and accompanying images are the result of a 2-step transformative process:

  • Convert each photograph into audio using specialized software
  • Take the same audio and feed it through a spectrograph in order to recreate the original image

Photographs (or any other form of imagery) can be converted into audio. The photo's tones and forms are translated into various frequencies. Depending on the visual complexity of the image, the sounds generated will range from tranquil to chaotic, from peaceful to ominous, from soft to severe.

We can also regenerate the original photograph using its respective audio. With the aid of spectrograph software, the sound of each photo creates a crude and murky approximation of the initial image. The level of degradation varies depending on how the sound gets interpreted by the software. The result is a type of image that is both familiar and yet no longer photographic in its nature.

All 83 photographs contained within the pages of The Americans have undergone this process and are presented here in the book's original running order. While many of their details have become obscured to the point of being lost, the layer of audio allows the viewer/listener to experience the images in an entirely new manner, perhaps leading to different interpretations and unintended meanings.

00
01
Parade — Hoboken, New Jersey
02
City fathers — Hoboken, New Jersey
03
Political rally — Chicago
04
Funeral — St. Helena, South Carolina
05
Rodeo — Detroit
06
Savannah, Georgia
07
Navy Recruiting Station, Post Office — Butte, Montana
08
En route from New York to Washington, Club Car
09
Movie premiere — Hollywood
10
Candy store — New York City
11
Motorama — Los Angeles
12
New York City
13
Charleston, South Carolina
14
Ranch market — Hollywood
15
Butte, Montana
16
Yom Kippur — East River, New York City
17
Fourth of July — Jay, New York
18
Trolley — New Orleans
19
Canal Street — New Orleans
20
Rooming house — Bunker Hill, Los Angeles
21
Yale Commencement — New Haven Green, New Haven, Connecticut
22
Cafe — Beaufort, South Carolina
23
Georgetown, South Carolina
24
Bar — Las Vegas, Nevada
25
Hotel Lobby — Miami Beach
26
View from hotel window — Butte, Montana
27
Metropolitan Life Insurance Building — New York City
28
Jehovah's Witness — Los Angeles
29
Bar — Gallup, New Mexico
30
U.S. 30 between Ogallala and North Platte, Nebraska
31
Casino — Elko, Nevada
32
U.S. 91, leaving Blackfoot, Idaho
33
St. Petersburg, Florida
34
Covered car — Long Beach, California
35
Car accident — U.S. 66, between Winslow and Flagstaff, Arizona
36
U.S. 285, New Mexico
37
Bar — Detroit
38
Barber shop through screen door — McClellanville, South Carolina
39
Backyard — Venice West, California
40
Newburgh, New York
41
Luncheonette — Butte, Montana
42
Santa Fe, New Mexico
43
Bar — New York City
44
Elevator — Miami Beach
45
Restaurant — U.S. 1 leaving Columbia, South Carolina
46
Drive-in movie — Detroit
47
Mississipi River, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
48
San Francis, gas station, and City Hall — Los Angeles
49
Crosses at scene of highway accident — U.S. 91, Idaho
50
Assembly line — Detroit
51
Convention hall — Chicago
52
Men's room, railway station — Memphis, Tennessee
53
Cocktail party — New York City
54
Salt Lake City, Utah
55
Beaufort, South Carolina
56
Funeral — St. Helena, South Carolina
57
Chinese cemetary — San Francisco
58
Political rally — Chicago
59
Store window — Washington, D.C.
60
Television Studio — Burbank California
61
Los Angeles
62
Bank — Houston, Texas
63
Factory, Detroit
64
Department store — Lincoln, Nebraska
65
Rodeo — New York, City
66
Movie premiere — Hollywood
67
Charity ball — New York City
68
Cafeteria — San Francisco
69
Drug Store — Detroit
70
Coffee shop, railway station — Indianapolis
71
Chattanooga, Tennessee
72
San Francisco
73
Belle Isle — Detroit
74
Public Park — Cleveland, Ohio
75
Courthouse square — Elizabethville, South Carolina
76
Picnic ground — Glendale, California
77
Belle Isle — Detroit
78
Detroit
79
Chicago
80
Public park — Ann Arbor, Michigan
81
City Hall — Reno, Nevada
82
Indianapolis
83
U.S. 90, en route to Del Rio, Texas
image 00 Image 01 Image 02 Image 03 Image 03