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Lecture: Between The Senses: Sound, Colour, and Synaesthesia

In this lecture Umut Eldem talks about synaesthesia, a rare brain condition that lets people see colours and shapes when they hear sounds and music. Looking at established composers and artists who have used their synaesthesia in their works, we will see how the phenomenon relates to the ways we combine sounds and colours, which electronic tools we can use to recreate it, and how we can make art from it.

The idea of a colour-music connection, that there is a natural connection between our perception of sound and colour, exists throughout the history of art and philosophy. Some artists and composers have even claimed that they could ‘see’ music or ‘hear’ colours. It is only in the last century that synaesthesia, the experience of multiple senses from a single sensory input, has gained recognition as a legitimate (but rare) neurological condition. While most of us think how we connect different sounds with different colours is personal (and even random), the existence of synaesthesia shows that it has a collective biological and perceptual basis. Synaesthesia, and its aesthetic reception in non-synaesthetes, opens new avenues in research regarding the relationship between sound and colour. As a part of my PhD research into this subject, the aim of this lecture is to discuss synaesthesia in composers and artists, and talk about how it relates to the interconnectedness of our perception of the senses. The ways of recreating synaesthetic experiences electronically, and using synaesthesia as a performance tool will be shown with live examples using Max/MSP/Jitter and Ableton Live.


Day: 2019-04-27
Start time: 15:45
Duration: 00:30
Room: talk room

Language: en


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