Thursday, 15 March 2012

Synesthetic art

I've already written a blog entry on this, but today, I felt compelled to expand on it a little...

Last year, I posted a gallery of work from 2004, of my synesthesia-inspired art. Looking back on this, I really am quite proud of this work, not only because I love the music that inspired each piece, but because I managed to capture the abstract sensations and visions I experienced whilst playing the music and transpose them on to the screen.

Synesthesia takes many forms, from mild to extreme, each individual having a very specific experience. For me, the association of sounds/music, words and numbers with colours has always been there. I assumed everybody experienced the same. I didn't even know it had a name. Not until 1997 when I heard the term for the first time – which put a whole new slant on everything for me.

I'm lucky that for me the synesthesia isn't intrusive or disturbing in any way – it's an addition to my work and an extra facet of creativity. Sadly for some people the condition can be extremely distressing and problematic, especially in more severe cases.

As I first realised what synesthesia was in Peter Gabriel's CD-ROM project, Eve, it made perfect sense, as an ardent fan of Gabriel's music, to try and illustrate how several of his songs took form in my mind. I remember working through many different tracks – not necessarily my favourites – and not getting anywhere with some, and others came together instantly. "Come Talk to Me" was such an example – the colours, forms and textures that I achieved on screen (as these were digital pieces) were close to what I experienced when listening to the music. What is consistent through each piece I produced, over a series of days of listening to the songs, was the central "streak" of white or cream, which in most cases tears through the middle of the image. My ultimate conclusion was that this represented the vocals.

The result was an interesting suite of abstract images – which I would have been very satisfied with even had it not grown out of such an unusual matter. I've often wondered why I haven't tried it again on other artists' work and songs that I like. But actually I realise, that I have. Every time I paint, I listen to music – and this makes up a core element of any piece I produce.

Talk in Pictures gallery on The Light Dream

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