This week I’ve been working on a typography project for which I have to effectively visualise a phrase to represent how the phrase sounds and also represent its meaning, so in effect, create a multi sensory piece of work.
Kinetic Typography is one way in which designers aim to link sound, linguistics and visual representation, for example this popular music video for Cee Lo Green-
Or this extremely clever and witty representation of Stephen Fry’s beautiful thoughts on language-
But what if you didn’t need to put pen to paper, or finger to keyboard to represent how your mind interprets language? Enter, Synesthesia- a rare condition in which senses become muddled and overlap, for example, some Synesthetes may taste words, see music or see tastes as shapes. Researching this condition is fascinatingly insightful and shows how, when linked, our senses are capable of interpreting one thing in a variety of different ways, for example hearing a B flat as a musical note but also seeing it as the colour turquoise. The documentary “Derek Tastes Like Earwax” (below) is a really informative programme that follows the lives of several Synesthetes, whowing what it’s like to live with what can be a life altering condition.
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The artwork of synesthetes is almost like looking into a new way of thinking. I myself feel that I think in a very visually, and just by chatting with my friends it’s obvious that our minds all work differently to interpret the world. The difference with Synesthetes however seems to be that this condition of the mind extends itself into sensory reactions. More evidence is coming forward to suggest that many well known artists are thought to have been Synesthetes including Wassily Kandinsky, Vincent Van Gogh and Joan Mitchell. A more recent example of synesthesia in Art is this video by Michal Levy called ‘Giant Steps’ which shows how as a synesthete she interprets the music of John Coltrane.
The workings of the human mind never fail to fascinate me, and looking into Synesthesia has certainly been inspirational for starting my project. Now, if you don’t mind, I’m off to try and evoke Synesthesic reactions.