Synesthesia

syn·es·the·sia syn·aes·the·sia (sĭn’ĭs-thē’zhə):

  • A condition in which one type of stimulation evokes the sensation of another, as when the hearing of a sound produces the visualization of a color.
  • A sensation felt in one part of the body as a result of stimulus applied to another, as in referred pain.
  • The description of one kind of sense impression by using words that normally describe another.

It is widely considered that synesthesia arises in brains where from a young age, neurological paths that service our sensory perception do not become entirely defined, resulting in cross-chatter between the senses.

Famous synesthetes reportedly include painter David Hockney, who perceives music as color, shape, and configuration; composer Wassily Kandinsky, who had a four senses combined: color, hearing, touch, and smell; and physicist Richard Feynman who percieves elements of equations as different colours.

What a cool way to see the world – a totally unique perception of reality. And how hard must it be to express this reality to others?! Synesthetes must feel in some part driven to demonstrate their unique perspective, perhaps driving them to create great cultural artefacts that we can all enjoy.

One filmmaker has produced their interpretation of a reality touched by synesthesia. I urge you to watch this great short film for a taste of the condition:



Synesthesia
from Terri Timely on Vimeo.

Can anyone out there think of a way us non-synesthetes might be able to experience the world like this, via the medium of Augmented Reality?
Would love to explore some ideas.

Published by

Tom Saunter

I like to think about the media, technology, pop-culture & the future. When not blogging, I tweet @freedimensional & work @MediaComUK. Feel free to visit my Personal Bio to learn more about me.