Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Rosalyn Driscoll on Synesthesia

Synesthesia, or sensory crossover, has long been the domain of artists who combine visual effects with other sensory modes, such as hearing or taste, and the occasional odd person who perceives numbers or music as colors.

Although my sculptures explore the territory shared by sight and touch, I never considered myself synesthetic until my work was included in an exhibition called Sensory Crossovers: Synesthesia in American Art, curated by Sharyn Udall at the Albuquerque Museum in New Mexico. My sculpture-video installation, Second Skin, adds a contemporary note (and an example of using sight and touch) to mid 20th century artists who fused sensory modes: O'Keefe, Dove, Burchfield, Gottlieb, and others. Video of installation at

I learned that synesthesia is a special neurological condition, but scientists taking it seriously are discovering that it is more common, and that the senses are considerably more connected, than previously thought. Although my own crossovers between sight and touch are not involuntary or invariant, as they are in "true" synesthesia, I do perceive, think, make decisions (and art) in terms of inner feelings - not emotions but sensations. I wonder how many other artists, especially sculptors, perceive in such idiosyncratic ways.

Link to exhibition:

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