Due to my involvement in some intensive courses for art students in The
Hague and Brussels I wasn't ably to introduce myself earlier to you. I am
working as an art teacher in The Hague where I am senior researcher at the
Interfaculty ArtScience of the Royal Conservatoire and the Royal Academy of
Art. There, and at the Transmedia master-after-master of Hogeschool
Sint-Lukas in Brussels I teach the introductory courses Synesthetics I and
II and research groups in the field of Mediated Architecture and
Environments. My interest in synesthesia and, what I call since last year,
synesthetics, started in 1979 with my experiment 'experimental synesthesia'
at the Psychological Laboratory of the University of Amsterdam and in the
period 1984-88 with dr. Larry Marks at the Pierce Lab in New Haven. In that
period I wrote a number of articles and chapters in books on synesthesia and
the unity of the arts, most of them in Dutch. In 1994 together with club
Paradiso in Amsterdam, I founded the Sonic Acts festival which will have its
13th edition soon. I am a Ph.D candidate for the Academy of Creative and
Performing Arts of Leiden University.
To summarise my position regarding some of the issuses raised in the
discussion, I wrote an imaginary lemma for the term: synesthetics.
1. (used with a sing. verb)
a. The branch of esthetics (Eng. aesthetics) that deals with joint
esthetics, the artistic effects resulting from bringing together
esthetics from different disciplines in one work of art, often as a
consequence of the use of new technologies
b. In Kantian philosophy esthetics is the branch of metaphysics concerned
with the laws of perception. SynesthesiaŠ "is a term that refers to the
transposition of sensory images or sensory attributes from one modality
to the otherŠ" (Marks, 1978). The word synesthesia is composed of two
elements: Œsyn¹ (with, together, alike, similarity) and Œaesthesia¹ (to
feel, perceive). In analogy we may describe synesthetics as Œjoint
c. Synesthetics, synesthetic art, synesthetic metaphor and sensory
synesthesia are all manifestations of a guiding perceptual principle:
Œthe unity of the senses¹. According to ethnomusicologist Erich M. von
Hornbostel (1925) this interrelatedness of the senses can be observed
in daily life situations, in new media such as film, as well as in 'the
unity of the arts' which was given from the origin (masked dance)
2. (used with a sing. verb) The study of the esthetics of visual music
(Castel, 1725), Gesamtkunst (Wagner 1949; Kandinsky, 1911), Œthe art of
relationships¹ (Mondrian, 1925, Moholy Nagy (1927), Œsynaesthetics and
kinaesthetics: the way of all experience¹ (Youngblood, 1972) and of more
recent forms of generative art, interactive art and mediated environments
3. (used with a sing. or pl. verb) A conception of what is artistically
valid or beautiful: "conceptual synesthetics" (4¹ 33² by John Cage, 1952).
4. (used with a sing. or pl. verb) An artistically beautiful or pleasing
appearance: "They're looking for electric music theater, not for
synesthetics², Dick Raaijmakers, 1995
So for me Hornbostel's paradigms 'the unity of the senses' and 'the unity of
the arts' are still essential for any fruitfull discussion on synesthetic
art. Being surprised that Hornbostel's original paper Die Einheit der Sinne
(1925)/The Unity of the Senses(1927) is hardly ever refered to, my first
suggestion for the group is to read this artcle. It can be found at
Another omission in the discussion is any reference to Serge Eisenstein's
The Film Sense and especially the chapter on the Synchronization of the
senses, and Gene Youngbloods book Expanded Cinema (1970), Part Two
Synaesthetic Cinema, and the role of synesthetic perception as related to
vertical montage, collage, and 'the way of all experience'. See
I hope that this discussion will be continued on the new LEF website.
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