Ambivalent Interplay

Ambivalent Interplay

Heejoo Kim
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-352-4.ch009
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The human vision, the most ubiquitous receptor of the human senses, has been the prevailing sensory organ for a noticeable manifestation of visual arts. Nevertheless, in the aspect of new technology art, the embodied experience through senses dismantled and amalgamated in hybrid aspects. Explicitly, new media artists perceive that interactive technology is evolving rapidly in such a short period of time. Rather than engaging in technology more interactively, however, it seems they are scrutinizing the subsequent progression of the phenomenon in interactive art. Artistic experiments have predominantly been transferred through the human sensorium in interlaced approaches: touch, sight, smell and hearing have synesthetic qualities in their interactive connections in between works and viewers. Recently digital art performs in multi sensory forms of knowing and communicating. There are investigating perceptual and emotional mechanisms of involuntary synesthetic experiences. This artistic phenomenon is not only historically intriguing, but may also contribute to present synesthesia research. The functions and interrelations of the synesthetic approaches in new media arts and neurological researches are discussed separately.
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Early History Of Synesthetic Experimentation In Art

In the mid-nineteenth century synesthetic experiments had been placed in art movements. Those movements were frequently shown in the writings of composers and visual artists. The device, such as “clavecin oculaire” which produced color of lighting based on music tone, was invented by French scientist, Jesuit Caste in the eighteenth century. Other inventors like Jameson, Kastner, Bainbridge Bishop and Rimington researched those devices. In 1893, Rimington developed and named his device “color-organ”, and had a successful concert playing Wagner, Chopin, Bach and Dvorak with colors corresponding to their music (Peacock et al., 1998, p. 397-406).

Alexander Scriabin, a Russian composer and pianist started experiments in synesthesia in the first decades of the twentieth century with Wassily Kandinsky, a Russian painter, printmaker and art theorist. At that time, concerts with color lightings were sensational events. Scriabin was intrigued by the development of idiosyncratic tonal language and a poetic, philosophical, and aesthetic vision. On the other side, Kandinsky developed his paintings based on hearing tones and chords. Both, Scriabin and Kandinsky discovered and built up colored hearing in their early years. According to Scriabin, colors are often associated with tonality, and his quality and intensity of synesthesia did not always consistently exist. Whenever, he emotionally engaged with music more than usual, the synesthetic sensations of color would become intense. Not every single pieces of music would elicit synesthetic sensation. Some of classical music did not evoke his synesthesia. Therefore, attention has become drawn about his synesthesia by other researchers and became controversial. The major aim of his experiment with the auditory and visual perceptions explored the artistic potentials of the simultaneous playing of sound and colors.

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