Tuesday, 8 December 2009

An Eyeful of Sound

Here is a wonderfully rendered animation by Samantha Moore in Collaboration with Jamie Ward and a group of Synesthetes who experience sound induced synesthesia.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Punto y Raya Festival

The punto y raya festival:
festival of abstract animation using music as its point of reference.
Barcelona 26th to 29th November, 2009


Sunday, 27 September 2009

taste the light

Technology makes the connections. How can taste help blind people see. take a look at an article that explains new technology that does just that...

Sunday, 20 September 2009

the form influenced by synesthesia

Mirjam Mölder-Mikfelt's abstract nudes are inspired by her colorful
synesthetic experiences. Having her life filled with so many intriguing
perceptions, it just makes her want to show it in her paintings. As the
polarity to all that color, she occasionally likes to paint using only black
and white.

To see more go to: http://mikfelt.com

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Professor Funk does the Imperial March

Here's a wonderful video of "The Profesor Funk" playing with the idea of taste sound synesthesia. Enjoy

Three artist who record sound through visual art

Can you see where they're coming from?

What about synesthesia, is it linked?

Find out more about the artists:

Geo-Suk Yeo

Ted Vasin

Lesley Fin

Monday, 27 July 2009

Continuing the conversation: art, science and synesthesia

What exactly does synesthesia mean in terms of art? Speaking recently with James Bulley, one of the founders of OOXXOO, I discussed the use of the term synesthesia: in art there are grey areas that often seem to muddle its meaning.

Is VJing (mixing projected images to sound) a form of synesthesia?

What about Visual Music: animation which emulates music or creates movement corresponding to music? There are networking sites dedicated to this art form. In the work of Max Hattler, for example, I find convincing representations of synesthetic experience, which may also lead to deeper understanding of synesthesia. Nonetheless is it appropriate to call anything that synchronizes sound and image synesthesia?

Should the term synesthesia be a specific elitist term in art as it is in neuroscience? Neuroscience gives us:
- SYNESTHETES: those who experience a constant unchanging synesthesia of a specific type, for example colour/grapheme, or colour/sound synesthesia
- NON-SYNESTHETES: those who do not have a constant unchanging synesthesia, although they may have an understanding or intuitive sense of the experience and may have even experienced synesthesia in some unique circumstance, or example during sexual climax or under the influence of mescaline.
Perhaps it will help to differentiate between synesthesia, the neurological condition, and synesthetic art, where the term can be more broadly used to describe various artistic experiments related to synesthesia.

Regarding Synesthetic Art and Synesthesia, recent studies have shown that synesthetes do not prove to be more creative than non-synesthetes, despite longstanding speculation that they are. Could it be that, if synesthetes are not more creative than non-synesthetes, synesthesia, or something like it, is in itself an underlying factor of human creativity, giving us the unique ability to make immense leaps of logic and reach unexpected conclusions. Perhaps it is a mechanism that functions unconsciously – like putting one foot in front of the other so as to walk. Perhaps it is this that makes the most abstract experience of sound and moving irregular shapes seem so significant. Perhaps this is what attracts us to the weird science of synesthesia.

Yet for some reason the synesthesia stands out in the conscious experience of a minority and occasionally for others in a moment of heightened awareness. The studies of scientists and the rare cases of extreme synesthesia are truly fascinating and merit particular study. Take the example of James Wannertan for example. His experience of synesthesia is not an afternoon of MTV. James Wannertan experiences a different taste for every word, sound, name. The tastes are constant, unchanging and relentlessly bombarding him. Can you imagine hearing a friend’s name and literally tasting earwax? Or your own name tasting of dull chewing gum?

This is James’s everyday life. And this is the kind of experience neuroscientists are trying to figure out. It is not an easy subject to study: the grey areas muddle our understanding of what synesthesia really means. Between 1 in 1000 and 1 in 25 people may be termed synesthetes. Two prominent scientists Naom Sagiv and Jamie Ward developed surveys launched over the internet through the BBC, DO YOU SEE WHAT I HEAR? and DO YOU SEE WHAT I SEE?, to try and study as much of the population as possible. Despite the limitations of such a survey to be able to understand a participant’s particular subjective experience, they were able to involve over 15,000 people in the experiment.

I was one of them. In all honesty, I found the experiment to be a bit frustrating – as if it had been designed for a robot or a computer, rather than a human being. At the same time, I admired the efforts of Ward and Sagiv to involve such a large percentage of the population in their experiment. Sagiv has also delved into synesthesia in art in an article on algorithmic synesthesia for The Oxford Handbook of Computer Music. I spoke to Sagiv at a conference. We talked about the BBC experiment and how to develop further artistic experiments towards a broader view of the subjective experience of synesthesia.

Many of the ideas scientists are discussing regarding synesthesia have been being addressed by artists for centuries, not using empirical scientific questioning, but rather intuitive conviction and creative experimentation. Allow me to ask, why is it that, if we have intuitively and artistically been engaging in a discussion on synesthesia for hundreds of years is it now that we allow science to define it for us? What is it about scientific conclusions that makes them superior to artistic expression and poetic reflection?

Science has inspired artists since its beginning. Can’t art inspire science? This is perhaps an area where science can take some lessons from art, where the two fields could come together, investigate more fully and thus hopefully reach more rounded conclusions.


Networking for visual music

Documentary on James Wannertan

BBC Synesthesia Surveys by Naom Sagiv and Jamie Ward.

The Oxford Handbook of Computer Music

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Dr. Hugo's Synesthesia Links

Dr. Hugo Heyrman, Doctor of Fine Arts from the University of Laguna in Tenerife, is a multi-faceted artist and networker, who has pulled together a plethora of information and links on synesthesia in various embodiments. He has also developed a range of work in diverse media, from artistic to academic around synesthesia and linking synesthesia to a variety of other phenomena. In 1995 he founded the Belgian Synesthesia association and has been a professor of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Antwerp since 2006.

See his Synesthesia index of important links at:


Friday, 26 June 2009

Synesthesia & Design

Being a cross sensory experience bearing strong emotional impact synestheisa has immense persuasive value. In addition itcan often be very subtle, even subconscious, this could be why some experiences feel eerily profound affecting us more deeply that we suspect. Therefore, when creating an environment or product synesthetic considerations can be greatly beneficial.

The Artist, musician and Synesthete Michael Haverkamp has made the study and practice of synesthesia in design, as well as in art and music, a crucial part of his work. Much of his work has not yet been translated into English, though two articles Visual Aspects of Auditory Perception and Synesthetic Design and Sound Quality which have can be downloaded from his website:


His site also holds other treasures to be discovered see and enjoy

Friday, 29 May 2009

Synesthesia projects in the Netherlands

A short message to inform you about synesthesia activities in The Netherlands. The main source for projects about synesthesia in the arts and sciences is Synesthetics Netherlands. It contains a Dutch and an English portal to projects since the last eight years. See for instance the Netherlands Color Synesthesia Project by artist Clara Froger and scientist Cretien van Campen (English page at http://www.synesthesie.nl/necosyn_eng.htm). The archives of the newsletters SYN-NL contain even more art & science projects (if you read some Dutch or you may just check the included links): http://www.synesthesie.nl/newsletter.htm

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Synesthesia Building Bridges between Art and Science

Synesthesia is a subject that fascinates, revealing surprising truths about the human condition. Though these truths often seem illogical, to many, they appear to be obvious; some feel they are part of human nature, a fundamental aspect of our being. One of the wonderful aspects of this subject is how it brings people together in discussion, art and research. This exchange and collaboration seem a necessary part of our social engagement with synesthesia; as synesthesia has to do with the mixing of the senses, it seems only sensible that it should carry with it a demand for cross-curricular and interdisciplinary activities.

Recently, having attended the Third International Conference on Synesthesia, Science and Art, in Granada, Spain, I was impressed with the various perspectives developing in this multidisciplinary subject, as well as the number of fascinating and enthusiastic people involved. Furthermore, the level at which I observed scientists and artists engaging and collaborating left me amazed. On the final morning of the conference I briskly walked towards El Parque de las Ciencias with Ed Hubbard, a prominent contemporary scientific researcher of synesthesia. Ed, an exacting neurologist, and I, an experimental artist, discussed some of the difficulties involved in the communication between artists and scientists. Science is often thought of as arrogant in the eyes of artists; though, the scientific conviction that is often misconstrued as arrogance is one of science's greatest strengths: science is driven by the uniquely human desire to seek out and understand truth -scientists recognise that self conviction is fundamental for establishing truths and know that this conviction must come from evidence. In science, blind faith is actively avoided; for this reason, they must create new terms to explain aspects of human experience from an agreed point of view so as to simulate an objective view for the experimentation and analysis that is needed to reach conclusions. Unfortunately these are often difficult for the general public to engage with. While this is true, artists create their own terminology, which they often prefer to be open, left to subjective interpretation, something which invites public engagement.

After our brief discussion I came away with the idea that, engrained in both science and art, due to the aims of each, there are particular and distinct ways of observing the world and therefore reflecting it, creating something like a cultural divide. Interestingly, we were also discussing this with the conference interpreter. As a result, the idea of interpreting and translating became a central point in our discussion. We acknowledged that artists and scientists are both engaged in endeavours to develop, understand, enhance and expand human experience, and that, for the different points of view to communicate more clearly it is necessary to recognise and understand the fields' linguistic and cultural differences. Although this is a rather simplistic way of viewing the situation, as it is clear that within both science and art there are many diverse cultures and languages, the recognition of this idea may encourage open cross-disciplinary dialogue.

In conclusion, the subject of synesthesia inspires artists as well as scientists. Therefore, a strong desire to bridge uncommonly bridged gaps in developing human experience and understanding exists. This allows for an opportunity to examine and interpret all human experience as something interconnected. Art has a lot to offer science in its way of illustrating human experience and can often make very difficult subjects more accessible. At the same time, science, with its continuous endeavour to know the unknown and explain the unexplained, will never cease to fascinate and inspire the minds of artists.

Ed Hubbard's Home Page: http://edhubbard.googlepages.com/home
Art Work by Timothy B Layden: www.tblayden.com

Friday, 15 May 2009

Max Hattler's synesthesia animations

Aanaatt (Teaser) from Max Hattler on Vimeo.

These two videos are the work of Max Hattler, who I believe has succesfully simulated synesthetic experience through sound, movement and shape in short video animations. Rather than say more on his work I suggest experiencing the videos and looking into his work at:


Collision (by Max Hattler) - in HD quality from Max Hattler on Vimeo.

Monday, 4 May 2009

The Shape of Sounds, by Timothy B Layden

The Shape of sounds slideshow with sound and image of works in progress by Timothy B Layden

An analysis of synesthetic experience with visual and sonic art; searching out sounds in the environment and in music which hold within them strong colour, shape and movement. These are captured creating sound recordings. The recordings are edited into musical soundscapes while drawings document the colour, movement and shape of sounds. Once a sound compositions and their corresponding drawings are completed, mixed media paintings are developed on paper registering the texture and movement of the shapes of overall sound compositions. Finally a large scale series of paintings are being developed together to capture the overall spatial/colour/kinaesthetic environment of the sounds.
See more at: http://www.tblayden.com/

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Synesthesia 2009 - Granada Spain

This Weekend in Granada Spain "Synesthesia 2009"
- Conference on Art, Science and Synesthesia

Check it out:


"The International Foundation Artecittà, after the success at the First International Congress (such as opening ceremony of its constitution), held in Cuevas del Almanzora, Almeria, decided in collaboration with the University of Granada and Polytechnic University of Milan, organize the Second International congreso Synesthesia, Science and Art with the aim of displaying and collecting the progress made by researchers and experts from European and American prestige in each of the many aspects of synesthesia. With an interdisciplinary approach Congress was particularly targeted at neurologists, psychologists, artists, linguists, art historians, musicians, educators and researchers in sensory disabilities, students and synaesthetes in any of their categories .The organizing committee, international, has decided to hold the third congress in Grenada for the great welcome they had such emerging interdisciplinary research, proposed by FIAC in 2007 and for being a city steeped in culturally and in science and research, is revealing with great force. "

a proposal of correspondence

An age old question reappears again. Can an objective correspondence be discovered between the audio and the visual. A new paper by
André Rangel Macedo of the Universidade Católica Portuguesa adresses the issue from a tewnty first century perspective.

"Visible and Audible Spectrums -
a proposal of correspondence"
by André Rangel Macedowas published in English today.

Download the article:


Abstract: Presentation of a proposal of correspondence
between Colour and Music. This proposal is
materially exemplified by means of a new hyperinstrument,
which gives its users the control over
a multi-sensorial algorithmic composition
generated in real-time. The employed
methodology and mathematical model are also
presented with some detail, insofar as they
pretend to be matter and reference for future
developments in the field of multi-sensorial

Saturday, 21 March 2009

An Eyeful of Sounds - Samantha Moore

Samantha Moore is an Independent Film maker who makes animated documentaries. Funded by the Wellcome Trust she developed a short film entitled An Eyeful of Sound with
composer Adam Goddard and Producer Joshka Wessels.

The film is based on research developed with Jamie Ward (head of a synesthesia research group at Sussex University, UK) and several audio-visual synesthetes. The film shows the responses of people with audio-visual synesthesia to musical notes. You can see an example of some of her work on her website:


Saturday, 7 March 2009

Solenne Morigeaud - The “Synesthebag”

Solene is a surface designer who has done a survey related to synesthesia aiming to allow non-synesthetes to experience some aspects of synesthesia and to generally inform on the condition
She has taken concepts of synesthesia into the area of design using textured materials to create the “Synesthebag” (right).
She says about herself “I am a long term ‘challenge of perceptions and clashes of senses’ interested designer”
See more on the Synesthebag at:

Saturday, 28 February 2009

Christian Faur

Christian Faur has made his own synaesthetic alphabet.
He has created a colour alphabet where each letter corresponds with a specific tonal shade.
Here is his system
and here is a book made using his alphabet

He also makes lot's of colour filled work such as this jacket...

and these pixel pictures made from arranging coloured crayons into an image.

This is what he says on his website...

Semiotcs of Color

Colors and how they can express coded information is an area often focused on in field of design, art, physiology and philosophy. Easily identified iconography in conjunction with color can quickly inform us about potential dangers (warning=yellow, danger=red), it can guide us on what social expectations are, and easily identify product branding (Mc Donald's, Coke, etc...).

The most common colors have a standard social precept in which specific colors might stand for a general mood or idea. These meaning do not often transcend the boundary of the society that has constructed the meaning. An example is the color black, which often stands for death in western society while it’s opposite, white, is used to symbolize death in the eastern cultures.

Their have been systems put in place in the past that use colors to signify abstract meaning. These systems range from those used in coat of arms, flags, and military uniforms to the color and patterned Setts of Skottish kilts used to identify clans or groups.

The Inca's are believed to have used a system of colored strings and knots as a system of writing and recording data which was probably one of the first uses of mapping color directly to language. (http://www.ee.ryerson.ca/~elf/abacus/inca-khipu.html).

In modern times, electronic engineers are using color mapping system developed for identifying the resistance of resistors (10 colors that represent the individual numbers from 0-9) as well as color coding for wires (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_color_code).

Systematic Mapping of Color to the Alphabet

My use of colors in painting and art has also increased over the last five years and I have become aware of how difficultly it is to find a universal meaning of color that can transcends the cultural boundaries in a similar way that the symbols used in written language and mathematics have become universal. In a failed quest to find universal color meaning, I hit upon an idea of just mapping colors to a pre existing system that can hold meaning, the alphabet.

This type of mapping has been done in many ways in the past, with musical composers mapping colors to sound and harmony, computer artists mapping whole banks of words to millions of hues so that visual grouping can take place quickly. All these ideas, while forming an interesting system, did not meet my needs as a painter, as they could not be rendered in a direct way on canvas.

Taking a cue from Phoenicians, what I have done is to map a subset 26 distinct colors to a standardized set of signs (English alphabet or graphemes) that will allow me to construct meaning out of color directly and unambiguously using the English system of language that I am already familiar with.

These 26 colors are to be housed in a set of handmade glyphs (fonts) that allow a reader to more clearly navigate (i.e. read) through the color data (although the use of these glyphs are irrelevant as long as the colors are distinct, standardized and the reader is given a direction for reading). The addition of unique set of “punctuation symbols” developed in the font, allow the more accurate mapping of meaning from a standard “glyph” based set of symbols into the color.

The rules associated with reading English text do not necessarily apply when reading color text because of the symmetry of the glyphs. This difference has lead to different way of representing texts. For example, it is assumed that the reading be done from left to right but as the color swatches have no orientation, readers need only be given the direction in which to begin reading.

He also then goes into details of how the 26 colours were chosen and the creation of symbols and glyphs. There is plenty of exciting work on his site to get your teeth into.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Introducing Simon Longo AKA DITHERNOISE

Simon Longo is a sound artist currently exploring digital and organic aesthetics within sound and visual media. His interdisciplinary artistic practice encompasses and combines acoustics, psychoacoustics, neurosciences and synesthesia within electronic music and audiovisual composition. His work includes music, sound design, installation, soundscape design, multi-speaker sound, visual projections and live audiovisual performances.
Simon Longo's work is live audio visual electronic sound with moving coloured light
About his synesthesia he says “My synesthetic experience exist mainly between sound and visuals as colours and shapes, but sometimes I also get confused between odours”
You can find out more about his work at the following sites:


Thursday, 12 February 2009

Amie Slavin -Rough Diamond Productions

I would like to introduce some artists who I have recenlty been in contact with who all share the interest and, or, experience of synesthesia through their senses and, or, work. I want to introduce them one at a time so that you get a chance to look at their work individually and don't feel too bombarded. So to begin with I'd like to Introduce Amie Slavin

Amie is a synaesthetic sound artist, she sees names, words, letters and numbers as colours. She also sees sounds, including her own work, as coloured. She explained to me regarding her sound piece Wave Play, which can be listened to on her site:
"WavePlay is a very visual piece for me, complete pictures for one thing, but also the shapes and colours of the waves - predictably dark and browny colours at the bottom, with yellowy gold and a little green at the top"
She also says that she experiences 'empathic synaesthetic', sometimes feeling other peoples' sensations. In addition to all this she has been totally blind for eleven years, so no longer see colours with her physical eyes.
See and hear more at:

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Miracle Fruit

The Miracle Fruit plant (Synsepalum dulcificum) produces berries that, when eaten, cause sour foods (Such as lemons and limes) consumed later to taste sweet. The berry, also known as Miracle Berry, Magic Berry, Miraculous Berry or Flavour Berry, was first documented by explorer Chevalier des Marchais who searched for many different fruits during a 1725 excursion to its native West Africa.
When the fleshy part of the fruit is eaten, this molecule binds to the tongue's taste buds, causing sour foods to taste sweet.
What’s most really amazing about it, is our sense of taste is so influenced by visual stimulus.
John Stosell once had his 20/20 interns take a blind taste test, arranged by Brian Wansink, author of the book Mindless Easting. Wansink, a Cornell food science professor, asked them which of the two cups of yoghurt "had more strawberry" Everyone answered one or the other. It turns out it was vanilla yoghurt mixed with chocolate syrup of varying concentrations. Nobody noticed it wasn’t “strawberry” at all (well, partly because out unnatural “fruit” flavors are pretty arbitrary.)

Another experiment from the same researchers, involved several several people wearing colored contacts. After a little while adjusting, they reported they were seeing colors normally, as their eyes had adjusted. But researchers found that wasn’t the case. Under scrutiny, “even when not wearing the contacts, they all began to select a pure yellow that was a different wavelength than they had before wearing the contacts.” The researcher explained, “Over time, we were able to shift their natural perception of yellow in one direction, and then the other…This is direct evidence for an internal, automatic calibrator of color perception. These experiments show that color is defined by our experience in the world, and since we all share the same world, we arrive at the same definition of colors.”


Friday, 16 January 2009

contemporary art practice and synestheasia

I am currently writing a paper on contemporary art and synesthesia to be presented at the conference Synaesthesia 2009. Understanding that both artistic and synesthetic experience are very subjective, I would like to represent a wide range of practices and perspectives from different artists.
I would greatly appreciate it if synesthetes who do an artistic practice or artists who produce art inspired in, or linked to concepts of synaesthesia send me any images of their work that may be relevant, along with any commentary on their experiences of synaesthesia in relation to their work (product and process).
Email timothy@tblayden.com
To find out more about the conference, taking place in Granada, Spain at the end of April 2009 go to: