For this blog I have decided to write about a course I have started @Tate Modern on Sensing Art led by Nigel Warburton. The aim of the course is to think about the senses in relation to art and to engage with works of art in the Tate Modern. The first question we were asked was a multiple choice one -
The letter A is red.
Whats your answer?
I have to say I have never thought about a letter as a colour and found this an interesting concept. What amazed me even more was how quickly I decided it was not red but blue! And yes along with some others in the session I was wondering if I had finally gone bonkers. We were discussing synaethesia, the definition given by the UK Synaesthesia Association is -
"In its simplest form it is best described as a 'union of the senses' whereby two or more of the five senses that are normally experienced separately are involuntarily and automatically joined together." Synaesthetes can experience colour when they hear sounds or read words, whilst others will experience tastes, smells, shapes or touches in various combinations. These experiences cannot be turned off and are automatic. Synaesthetes will have the same reaction to the stimulus again and again and again. The letter A will always be red, for non synaesthetes like myself it could change.
Using artificial synaethesia (a strategy in art appreciation to combine the senses in some way), we worked in groups and explored art work in the Material Gestures gallery. To start off with I found myself a little unsure looking at a painting and trying to work out what it tastes like...yes you did read right I said taste! However before I knew it I was licking my lips and tasting soup, burning timbers, decay and so on. I was amazed at how my relationship with paintings I have engaged with numerous times became more vivid and clarified. I often spend time looking at the marks, colour and structure to a piece of work. However last night, for the first time, I noticed layers, moods and emotions and experiencing a physical response to a pieces of work.
A fascinating workshop!