SEEING SOUND – THE ART OF SYNAESTHESIA

Synaesthesia is a perceptual condition in which the stimulation of one sense triggers an automatic and involuntary experience of another, such as the ability to “see” sounds, “taste” words or in more extreme cases, experience feelings or physical sensations with particular associations, such as certain smells or colours. People who experience synaesthesia – synaesthetes – may also see abstract concepts in their mind’s eye.

The kind of experience and the severity varies from one person to another, in those who experience synaesthesia.

It was in 1997 that I first realised this phenomenon I had always experienced actually had a name – thanks to the Peter Gabriel interactive game called Eve. So many things suddenly made sense, such as the way music affected my senses and imagination. Until that point, I assumed it affected everybody in the same way, and it is also impossible to imagine life without it.

No two synaesthetes will share the same experiences either – you could easily end up arguing over what colour a certain day of the week is or what texture a certain piece of music has!

My personal association with colours, textures or abstract forms with music has become a fascination, especially as an artist and musician. Synaesthesia become a crucial part of my own creative process – this ranges from the need to listen to music whilst creating artwork, or searching for particular sounds which in my mind, have certain colours or textures when I’m composing my own instrumental music.

Here are two galleries of my 'synaesthetic' artwork:

TALK IN PICTURES - artwork inspired by the music of Peter Gabriel
GREEN - a series of pieces that evolved out of a music project