Have you ever seen a blue flavoured drink and wondered, how can a colour be a flavour? To a small group of people, tasting the rainbow is an everyday occurrence. Synesthesia is a neurological anomaly that results in an atypical blend of the senses. This makes them see voices or taste the colour blue, which is an absolute wonder. There are many combinations of senses which means it is believed, there could be over 80 different types of synesthesia
Someone with this ability is known as a “synesthete.” and most people consider synesthesia to be a gift because it allows them to experience the world in such an unusual way. As you can imagine, those with synesthesia tend to be drawn to more creative roles. There have been a few artists who have managed to put this super power onto canvas.
In 2018, an artist called Daniel Mullen teamed up with synesthete and fellow artist Lucy Engleman to create a series of artwork that explored the fascinating world of synesthesia. Even though Mullen does not experience this phenomenon, he kept Lucy close by to keep his art as true as he could to the unique experience of synesthesia. Lucy had explained that time appears different to her, for example 1950-1980’s is vivid and thicker than more ancient times which she sees as thinner, with a paler tone.
Mullen used precise colours and angles to represent the different decades to give you a glimpse of what Lucy sees
Lucy mainly sees time, numbers and letters as colour but that is not the only type of synesthesia you can have. ArtistMelissa McCraken is an abstract artist who paints songs. Until she had the diagnosis of synesthesia at the age of 15, Melissa was unaware she had this unique power. Melissa’s favourite thing about her synesthesia is when she is listening to music and all the beautiful bright colours swirl around her. What do you hear when you see this piece?
The famous painter Van Gough is thought to have had synesthesia because of his disdain for the piano as claimed he could not cope with playing the instrument as he claimed it was overwhelming because each note evoked a different colour." Unfortunately a lot of what he said was taken as insanity because of his character. Even though synesthesia was studied in his time, it did not become widely known until the early 19th century just after his unfortunate passing. But if you spend the time to really look at some of Van Gogh’s work, you may agree.
Seeing music as colour is not the only type of synesthesia you will hear of. As mentioned before there are over 80 variations. This powerful ability has created some of the best pieces. Although, you don’t need to be synthetic to make something wonderful. Just put some music on and see what happens. Keep scrawling!