Synaesthesia is a term used to describe the neurological condition where two
sense modalities interact in human perception. Some cases are described as
seeing colours while reading numbers or letters, tasting shapes or listening
to tones while looking at a painting.
A whole genre of visual and media art has been inspired by the concept of
"visual music"; Some experimental curricula have also been developed in art
education in order to study the interrelationship of findings in
synaesthesia research with the study of art and cognition as a broader
discipline. However, very little has been done so far towards the direction
of creating an appropriate social environment for children who share these
extraordinary abilities, in order to help them develop new ways of creative
problem solving and share their experiences of alternative ways of thinking
in general education.
Reports of synaesthetic experiences are considered to have specific patterns
to suggest for identifying abstract narrative structures in specific
artworks. Such reports describe experiences like seeing moving shapes,
forms, and lines interacting with space while listening to music or vice
versa. Art genres, such as intermedia art, visual or kinetic poetry may also
be synaesthetic forms of art, including hybrid art forms that interact with
media performance, space and architecture. An example is the new ARS
ELECTRONICA opening performance : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UtU3ekW9Nkk
Art historians have already performed research on the synaesthesia case of
certain poets and visual artists, such as Wassily Kandinsky. We also have
descriptions of composers like Oliver Messiaen and Gyorgy Ligetti
that document how they used their synaesthesia to explore and elaborate
their compositions by drawing inspiration from visual forms. Relatively less
is known about abstract artists who experimented with film or other time -
based visual media such as interactive or virtual environments and site
In this discussion we wish to examine and elaborate on a number of specific
1. How have artists used scientific concepts of synaesthesia in the past?
2. Can a creative environment help synaesthetic children to develop their
3. Why is there so little exchange of knowledge on synaesthesia between
artists and scientists?
4. Do artists and scientists speak different languages when it comes to
synaesthesia? Or are they speaking about different subjects/aspects?
Moderator of this discussion is:
Veroniki Korakidou, PhD. Researcher at the University of Athens ,
Communication and Media Department , NT Lab. She holds an MPhil in Cultural
Studies and Human Communication from the University of Athens (2003), an MBA
in Audiovisual and Multimedia Production from the Groupe HE-ICHEC in
Brussels (2001) and a BA in Communication, Media and Culture from Panteion
University in Athens , Greece (2000). She has authored and co-authored a
number of publications in International Conference proceedings, books and
International Journals. As an artist she has participated in film festivals,
workshops and cine/theater productions. She is co-organizer of the
e-MobiLArt 2008-9 Project: www.media.uoa.gr/emobilart and the representative
of Greece to Leonardo Education Forum (LEF) since 2007.
Cretien van Campen is scientific researcher, author and editor in social
science and fine arts. He is affiliated as a senior researcher at the
Institute for Social Research <http://www.scp.nl/english> and
moderator of Synesthetics
Netherlands <http://www.synesthesie.nl/>, the web community of synesthetes
in the Netherlands . He is editor of the Leonardo online bibliography
Synesthesia in Art and
His latest book is The Hidden Sense: Synesthesia in Art and
Press 2007). He has published in the fields of the senses,
perception & art <http://www.synesthesie.nl/publist.htm> and health,
happiness & well-being<http://www.scp.nl/zorg/publicaties/publicatiesvanCretienvanC.html>.
Jack Ox has been engaged with the visualization of music for 35 years. As
such, her interest in relation to Synesthesia has been well known. She has
also served on the editorial board of Leonardo for 20 years, and co-edited
with Jacques Mandelbroijt, "Synesthesia and Intersenses"(1999-2001). Her
current project is the Gridjam; a multi-media collaboration of music, visual
art, science and technology with Alvin Curran composer, the Del Sol Quartet,
and Anthony Braxton, all playing in different venues around the globe but
appearing together as 3D avatars inside of Ox's and Dave Britton's Virtual
Color Organ, inside the Desert Organ Stop, a 3D group of rock and land
formation that operate as a metaphor for an orchestra, and includes real
time VR visualizations of the music.
Hervé-Pierre Lambert: ENS, Agrégation, Docteur es lettres, Centre de
Recherches Littérature et Poétique Comparée. Paris X Nanterre . Latest
papers (selection): « Proust et les neurosciences »,
www.epistemocritique.org , 01/09. « Géographie imaginaire du roman
posthumain de langue française », Etudes francophones, University of
Louisiana , 12/ 08. « Les Manifestes dans le courant de l'imaginaire
posthumain », Revue Itinéraires LTC, Paris XIII, 09/ 08. « Littérature, arts
visuels, neuroesthétique », www.epistemocritique.org 01/08. « Le laboratoire
comme atelier d'artiste », Recherches en esthétique, 12/07. Latest
conferences (selection): 10 /08 Centro Nacional de las Artes , Mexico :
« Bio-art et art cognition en France », « L'imaginaire posthumain : the
french version ». 11/07: « Neuroaesthetics, neurological disorders and
creativity», MutaMorphosis, Prague .
Dr Jamie Ward is an Associate Professor at the University of Sussex, UK. He
has carried out many scientific investigations on all aspects of
synaesthesia which have been published as journal articles. He is the
author of the recently published book: The Frog who Croaked Blue:
Synesthesia and the Mixing of the Senses. His website is
Elizabeth Seckel is a third year undergraduate student majoring in
physiology and neuroscience at the University of California , San Diego .
She is a research assistant at the Center for Brain and Cognition at UCSD,
studying under Dr, V. S. Ramachandran, best known for his experiments in
behavioral neuroscience. Elizabeth has also worked as a great escapes
western region intern at Starlight Starbright Children's Foundation, helping
seriously ill children cope with their fear and isolation through
entertainment and education, and a production intern for Weapons of Mass
Entertainment, helping to launch a tour that would appeal to young adults.
Elizabeth is also an avid gymnast, trampolinist, and bungee jumper.
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