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The Color of Sound

Synesthesia: The production of a sense impression relating to one sense or part of the body by stimulation of another sense or part of the body.

Synethetes for example are types of people with a neurological phenomena who can hear color or even taste color. We call this a rare condition in which someone is born with senses entwined, but what if it’s something that can be learned? In my curiosity I found an article written by Carolyn Gregoire for the Huffington Post interviewing Berit Brogaard (synesthete-turned-scientist) about her synesthesia and how she believes it can, and should be learned. Gregorie states that, to some degree, anyone can learn to have synesthetic abilities. Gregorie claims that in order to do this you have to start associating two things like colors and letters in a single category. She claims that when people start to process this, the brain automatically starts to make connections across the brain with other senses.

“The thing is, you remember colors so much better than you remember a lot of other things ― emotions and colors are some of the things we remember best. If you can associate things with colors or emotions, your memories are going to stick better. So, sometimes you develop associations to things that are specific to what you want to do, and other times you just pick something that you find intriguing. You’ll see overall improvement in your performance with memory and sometimes also creativity.” -Berit Brogaard

Yes, You Can Teach Yourself Synesthesia (And Here’s Why You Should)

When I was fourteen years old I moved away from my home to train to become a professional ballet dancer in New York City. Every single day for 6+ years I was trained to make the connection of sound and movement. The founder of the school, George Balanchine had a famous quote that was the base of our entire training.

“See the music, hear the dance.”

What a gift this still is to me. After I quit dancing I had no other means of expressing myself. My art was tuned in one direction. I had only learned to make one connection and that only produced one form of expression. After years of feeling lost and stumbling around looking for some way to create again, my boyfriend, now husband, bought me paint and told me to see what came of it. I vividly remember living alone in the cheapest house I could afford, eating ramen noodles daily, feeling more inspired than I had in years. It wasn’t about painting anything specific or even painting anything beautiful. It was about listening to music and seeing what I saw. Instead of only seeing choreography I tried to listen to other instincts. To make some other kind of sensory connection. I was interested in this idea of taking what I had been taught for most of my young life and opening that up into different areas. After all, when I began dancing, I did not see movements when I listened to specific musical phrases. That was learned. Over time, we dancers knew exactly what steps the teacher was going to present just by hearing the piano play. Now I am intertwining music with color and texture, painting in all my spare minutes and spending all my extra money on my art. I hope I never stop exploring the practice of hearing color, listening for movement, and feeling brush strokes.

This new series of work is inspired by Interplay, a ballet choreographed by Jerome Robbins with music by Morton Gould. When I listen to his music I see pale colors playfully combined and a bit on the messy side. This music makes me feel warmth, see wispy strokes, and smell spring. Made up of twenty-one original paintings all unique while corresponding as a team and playing off of one another. They carry a sense of recklessness and energy that make me feel childlike.

Morgan Wells8 Comments