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TO OUR DELIGHT, OUR SENSES BLEND TOGETHER.

WELCOME TO URBANICITY
SENSING URBANITY
LISTENING FOR WORDS
VIEWING IMAGES OF MYSTERY
LOVING MUSIC
READING FOR LIVING
CELEBRATING THE MIND
TRAVELING TO EXPLORE
SEARCHING THE FUTURE
MAKING A DIFFERENCE

Making the most of synaesthesia: click images to enlarge.

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Symphonie Verte, Henry Valensi, 1935

We smell cinnamon buns at the airport and we can "taste" them.  Just seeing pictures of food can activate our taste buds. Hearing and seeing often work in unison, broadening and giving depth to our experiences of sight and sound. Painters who understand synaesthesia somehow imbue their visual images with a kind of music. Musicians see the colors of their sounds. Isn't it wonderful?

 

The premise that painting emulates music inspired some of the great art of the 20th century. And the musical analogy continues in music videos, experimental film, reflective lightworks, and laser installations.

Though our five senses are compounded, music holds a special place in heightened states, and visual music is all around us. In digital media, music and visual art truly are united. They are created out of the same stuff– bits of electronic information and infinitely interchangeable.

The early synaesthist painters were inevitably accomplished musicians. Paul Klee was a violinist; Wasilly Kandinsky was a pianist.

Arthur Dove listened to popular music in his studio while doing his "jazz paintings" in the twenties. His "Improvisation"  (conflating the words improvise and vision) signifies the musical analogy central to his work. Dove’s last work, "Primitive Music," in 1944, embodies his belief in the primal power of music– in color, line, vibration, balance, tension, and release.

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Motifs Two, Frantisek Kupka, 1913.

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Swell installation detail, Jennifer Steinkamp, 1995

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Plant Growth, Paul Klee, 1921

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Light, Wassily Kandinsky, 1930

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The Wedding, Fernand Leger, 1910

One sense can trigger another.
Can you hear music in a painting?
Do you see when you listen?

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Performance of Scriabin's Promethee, 1997

 

Fine writing also embodies the inherent cadence, rhythm, and flow of music. Of writing "Sounds," his book of poems, Kandinsky said:

"This is for me, a change of instrument, the palette to one side and the typewriter in its place. I use the word instrument because the force which motivates my work remains unchanged: an inner drive. And it is this very drive which calls for a frequent change of instrument."

Ernest Hemingway said that he wanted to write "like Cezanne painted." Great chefs present food as art, as "flavor visions." The singer Tony Bennet is an avid painter who finds no creative divide in his two instruments of expression.

There are no strict cubicles or neurological walls that separate our senses. The feel of movement, taste, sound, and vision work together to make us complete, sensual beings. Our appreciation of synaesthesia can bring us to a deep, rich state of consciousness and profound joy.

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Symphony Orchestra, Man Ray, 1916

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Radio Dynamics, Oskar Fischinger, 1942

Hear. Taste. See. Touch. Smell. Move. Dance. Does perfume emit a color? Does the sound of music connect with the motor system in your brain? Can a touch trigger a mental image?
 
Of course. Ask any neuroscientist.
 
                                          

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Remain curious.