Tag Archives: Music->visual synaesthesia

Ed Kuepper 2016 performance at MONA features a backdrop that resembles musical synaesthesia

Those arty people at the Museum of Old and New Art in Tasmania are right into synaesthesia.

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Kinetic 2017 by Orbital

Visual/musical effects in this video clip are a lot like synaesthesia evoked by music. This kind of effect is found quite often in music clips, especially for electronic music, and this type of synaesthesia seems to be one of the more common types, both in terms of how many people experience it and how often it is experienced by individuals. Contrary to what some researchers seem to believe, synaesthesia is not a constant experience. Specific cognitive or sensory stimuli, either from one’s own thoughts or from the world around evoke synaesthesia, and at least for me, not everything that I experience is a synaesthesia inducer, but nothing evokes synaesthesia like good music or interesting music.

Harts seems to be describing musical synaesthesias

The Indian born singer-songwriter who was invited to hang out and jam with Prince. Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Broadcast: 22/04/2016 on Lateline
Reporter: Simon Smithers

http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2015/s4448965.htm

I was just watching Lateline on ABC television (Australian), and following the passing of the legendary American musician Prince Lateline ran a story about the young Australian musician Harts who has been a guest of Prince and has also been mentored by the famous musician. Both musicians clearly share a major influence from the late synaesthete guitarist Jimi Hendrix. In the Lateline story, which is yet to be posted for viewing at the Lateline website, Harts described associations between colours, textures and music that is clearly synaesthesia. It seems to be a very common thing for synaesthetes to experience coloured music, and synaesthesia itself is a quite common phenomenon so the fact that Harts seems to be a synaesthete is not hard to believe or that big a deal. I do think it is interesting though. Harts, Prince and Hendrix all typify the notion of the musically creative individual, as artists following their own creative paths, playing a style of music that is full of colour and innovation and improvisation. Synaesthesia is thought to be linked to creativity. Could even be true.

I’m not an expert in music but I think the music of all three would all be regarded as psychedelic rock, a genre of music that has fascinated me since I was a child despite no cultural nor family influences pushing me in that direction. The music that I grew up listening to was cheesy nonsense that my folks enjoyed, hideous trad jazz, 1970s musicals, theatre organ music, disco….. And I survived! The closest things to psychedelia that I heard as a child was early electronic music and psychedelic rock of the 60s and 70s played on the radio, including the Beatles later stuff. Right until my 5th decade I hadn’t realised I had been a mad fan of psychedelic rock all my life until I started reading music reviews on Allmusic, and found that a the very disparate collection of musicians and groups who are my musical favourites all produced some music that had been categorized as psychedelic, even a favourite Australian musician Ed Kuepper, who I had the pleasure of meeting recently. Colourful as it might be, the colours aren’t the reason why I enjoy this type of music. I think the appeal is the strange and otherworldly feelings evoked by the music; the mesmerizing repetition, the emotionalism, the surprising twists, the fear and the awe. Maybe you need to have a hyperconnected brain to get all this out of mere sequences of sounds.

I’d bet my hat that the colourful and creative purple Prince was also a synaesthete, one way or another, but unless he spoke about it in the past we will never know.

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

Up then down, up then down……………

Oh, I get it! This cute tune by Calvin Harris is called “Bounce” because it goes up and down and up and down. Makes me want to move too. http://youtu.be/ooZwmeUfuXg

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

 

 

Anti-gravity by British India – a rock song with a definite oceanic quality

The sea was a big part of my life in my childhood, and memories of the sea are so deeply etched in my mind that it is a theme that comes up over and over again in my synaesthesia, with is an atypical memory-related variation in brain functioning that develops in the earlier years of childhood, around 5 or 6 years. At that age, all I wanted to do was swim. I experience the well-known types of synesthesia triggered by listening to music – colours, simple visuals, spatial concepts and abstract concepts, and I also experience aspects of the sensory experience of swimming in the ocean when listening to some pieces of music. Anti Gravity from the Avalanche CD by the amazing Aussie band British India is a very evocative song for me, I think because of the way that it surges and crashes, like waves in the sea. I become immersed in the music, I swim in it, and parts of it are most definitely a deep blue-green colour. Be sure to swim between the flags!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wVgy3nz3C98

Moist music and watery art

When I listen to the bass in this piece of music, the Doo Bop Song by Miles Davis, it evokes a soothing feeling of coolness like swimming (this is for me literally cool jazz). For this reason this CD gets most use at the end of hard and hot summer’s days. This special piece of music also evokes the image and the concept of a body of water that has regular undulations or small waves in it, something like the effect that you might see in one of those many paintings of swimming pools that David Hockney was famous for. The Dutch Symbolist/Impressionist painter Piet Mondrian also created a number of paintings (his “Ocean” paintings) which visually depict the type of regular rhythmic waves that I experience when I listen to this music. David Hockney is a synaesthete, there is some evidence that Mondrian might have also been a synaesthete and I have read that Miles Davis explored the concept of synesthesia in his music. Coincidence?

The Doo Bop Song by Miles Davis

http://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/XckLm_SphBI

Links to pages with Mondrian paintings in an oceanic theme:
http://www.guggenheim.org/new-york/collections/collection-online/show-full/piece/?search=Ocean%205&page=&f=Title&object=76.2553.38

http://www.gaiagallery.com/contemporary-paintings/pop-art/art-quill-studio-why-artcloth-engaging-new-visions-art-essay-marie-therese-wisniowski/

Links to some Hockney pool paintings:
http://www.artnet.com/Galleries/Artwork_Detail.asp?G=&gid=928&which=&aid=552495&wid=426026219&source=inventory&rta=http://www.artnet.com

http://www.hockneypictures.com/works_paintings_70_06.php