- Black Star Rising - http://rising.blackstar.com -

Synesthesia, Photography, and a Different Way of Experiencing Images

Tweet [1]

Have you ever wondered what colors sound like? Or what images taste like? Well, if you were someone with synesthesia [2], you’d know.

Just what is synesthesia? According to [3]Richard Cytowic, M.D., a leading synesthesia researcher:

It denotes the rare capacity to hear colors, taste shapes, or experience other equally startling sensory blendings whose quality seems difficult for most of us to imagine.

A synesthete might describe the color, shape, and flavor of someone’s voice, or music whose sound looks like “shards of glass,” a scintillation of jagged, colored triangles moving in the visual field. Or, seeing the color red, a synesthete might detect the “scent” of red as well. The experience is frequently projected outside the individual, rather than being an image in the mind’s eye.

Many different kinds [4]of synesthesia exist, ranging from synesthetic art and synesthetic images to synesthetic cinema, and others.

A few years ago on the Photo.com discussion forum, [5] “Oliver S.” wrote, [6] “… after wondering why I never managed to take a photograph that I liked of certain motifs, it dawned on me that I simply couldn’t because the colours of the object’s name and of the object clashed.” Quite a few fellow photographers shared their own experiences with synesthesia.

But perhaps one of the most well-known synesthetic photographer is Marcia Smilack, [7] who creates what she calls “paintings by camera” and focuses exclusively on reflections found on moving water, shooting the image as she experiences a texture or sound. Her unique approach to photography is also manifested in the names she’s given the pictures, such as Slime for Clouds, Can-Can Dancers + Telephone Ring, and Singing Arches.

You can read more about Marcia on her site, or hear her speak at The 6th Annual National Conference of the American Synesthesia Association [8] on January 26-28.

Yale Scientific Magazine explores the mystery of synesthesia here [9].

[tags]synesthesia, photography, andrea weckerle[/tags]

Tweet [1]
1 Comment (Open | Close)

1 Comment To "Synesthesia, Photography, and a Different Way of Experiencing Images"

#1 Comment By andy ilachinski On May 10, 2012 @ 12:38 pm

FYI: I have been exploring synesthesia and photography for several years now, have posted a number of blog entries on the subject:


and have recently self-published a book of "Synesthstic Landscapes":