Tag Archives: Music Scores

When you wake up with the melody of a love song wafting through your mind like the scent of jasmine on a summer’s night…..

….you know you stayed up way too late watching a Bollywood movie the night before. I stayed up late the other night watching most of the 176 minutes of Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, starring the incomparably gorgeous Shah Rukh Khan and beautiful Anushka Sharma. I should have been an Indian, with my love of music and bright colours.

Much as I adore Bollywood movies, especially ones with Shah Rukh Khan in them, I’ve taken a few viewings to warm to this film, probably because I don’t like the gender politics in it, as is the case with most Bollywood movies and I also don’t like the stereotypically negative depiction of introverts, as is often found in both Bollywood and Hollywood movies. One positive thing I can say about this film is that it proves the acting talent of the delightful male lead, because the plot of the film would be totally implausible if not for his ability to convince the audience that his wife in the movie could be fooled by her husband knowing her in close relationships both in his real persona and in a synthesized character who is his extreme opposite in terms of the introversion/extroversion spectrum of personality dimensions. Obviously both characters have the same face, so how could a wife not recognize her own husband’s face, playing a different character? I guess that premise is believable in light of the fact that face recognition ability is found in humans in a spectrum of ability, or a “bell curve” or a natural distribution. Most people are pretty good at it, a few excellent, and I guess the same number of a few really bad at recognizing faces. And there are other things that can confuse visual person recognition such as hairdos, facial hair, posture, habitual fashion styles, gait, voice and above all, personality, which is the spirit or mind that animates our bodies and faces. Shah Ruhk Khan and the make-up and fashion professionals who worked on this movie have expertly altered all of the above features of a persona (besides the basic face structure) in the two characters he plays, with such skill that the actor’s face no longer plays the usually dominant role in person recognition, even for a super-recognizer such as myself.

Upon some reflection, I’ve concluded that the degree of attention to the face of both personas of the male lead character are not reduced to the same degree. I think I paid much more attention to the sexy persona’s face than to the nerdy persona’s face, even though they are the same face. I guess that is just how that kind of attraction works; it demands and keeps attention. No surprises there, but if this is generally true it gives a nice clue to how to hide or disguise identity. I guess it is no accident that the stereotypical disguise consists of props that make a person less attractive, things such as spectacles or fake facial hair. Does a less attractive face draw less attention, and as a result is it less likely to be well-encoded in visual memory, and is it then less likely to be recognized later?

Can I really believe a plotline in which a wife repeatedly fails to recognize her own husband wearing a disguise that reveals his face rather than covers it? I’m not sure it matters that much when I just love watching the actors the dancing and the colours, but for sure Shah Rukh Khan’s ability to turn his industrial-strength charisma on an off like a tap is the only thing that makes this film believable in any shape or form.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1182937/

 

Synaesthesia-related current and upcoming arts events in Australia

MONA in Tasmania will be revisiting the theme of synaesthesia in Synaesthesia+, a musical, visual and gustatory festival of the psychological phenomenon. It is happening this weekend and tickets will set you back quite a lot.

In Perth, Western Australia PICA have been hosting an exhibition of sound art, What I See When I Look at Sound, featuring the works of artists Lyndon Blue, Lauren Brown, Matthew Gingold, Cat Hope and Kynan Tan. This show will be on until the end of this month and it is free, or at least we didn’t get charged when we went to look and listen to it a while ago.

You might think from considering the title of the exhibition that it might have the theme of synaesthesia, and indeed the works are described each as a “synaesthetic offering”, but actually I believe that the theme of the exhibition, “the relationship between looking and hearing” is actually about binding, which is a broader term that can encompass normal or average sensory perception and also some types of synaesthesia that are similar to or more consciously-experienced variants of normal mental sensory perception. I think this exhibition is about binding more than it is about synaesthesia. If a multi-sensory arts event was “about synaesthesia” I’d expect to see lots of colour and hear music and maybe see or feel letters of the alphabet, or see calendars suspended in space, and maybe even experience smells and flavours. I might look at a “synaesthesia art” painting and as a direct result “feel” motion or “hear” rhythms.The painting Upward by synaesthete artist Vassily Kandinskii or the painting Broadway Boogie Woogie by probable synaesthete artist Piet Mondrian are both pretty clear examples of what I mean by synaesthesia art. I have written about both artists previously in posts at this blog.

Binding is a term used in psychology, the philosophy of mind, neuroscience and cognitive science. It is certainly related to synaesthesia and is central to scientific understanding of synaesthesia as a phenomenon in neuroscience, but it isn’t the same thing. As far as I understand binding is about the perception of the many different sensory characteristics of an object or an event as a unified thing or event. A clear example would be the installation Filament Orkestra by Matthew Gingold. It grabs and holds attention and causes reflection even though the idea is no more complicated than (simple) sound and (plain white) light being presented (or not presented) both at the same points in time. I found the effect to be quite reminiscent of flamenco dancing and tap dancing, which I guess shows how the sensory binding of sight and sound is an engaging effect that is used in a diverse range of art forms, high arts and popular arts, modern and traditional, even including firework displays. Have you ever had the experience of viewing from an elevated location a fireworks display that is happening a distance away, and the wind is blowing in such a direction that the sound waves never reach where you are standing, so that the sight has no soundtrack? It’s the strangest thing to see (and not hear).

According to some online festival programs, tomorrow (Saturday August 16th 2014), as a part of the Perth Science Festival which is a part of National Science Week there will be a free event in the Central Galleries at PICA titled Sounds Symbols and Science at 1.00pm, which will be “a special live concert of “Cat Hope’s End of Abe Sade in the What I See When I Look at Sound exhibition”” and this will somehow involve digital graphic notation, which is a concept that very much overlaps with many synaesthetes’ experiences of listening to music, including my own at times, so I’m happy to categorize this planned event as synaesthetic, which is more than enough to provoke my curiosity.

http://www.pica.org.au/view/Sounds%2C+Symbols+and+Science/1891/

https://www.facebook.com/events/686307634740051/

http://www.scienceweek.net.au/perth-science-festival/

http://www.scitech.org.au/events/1583-perth-science-festival

Exhibition about visual depiction of music at Mt Lawley ECU ends April 12th 2013

I can’t help wondering if the Drawn From Sound exhibition has anything to do with musical synaesthesia. I would like to see the exhibition, but unfortunately time might not permit it. The curator of this exhibition is flautist Cat Hope.

http://www.drawnfromsound.com/index.html