Monday, April 15, 2013

synesthetic moments and the future of the past

i'm fascinated by the notion of synesthesia. probably because i first learned about it in a russian context. i think it was in nabokov's speak, memory, that i first encountered the condition. as wiki puts it: it's a neurological condition in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway. for many people, this means that they see numbers or letters as colors or hear sounds as colors. it's something you are just born with and which isn't that understood. you can't make yourself have it and many people don't realize they have it until they realize that others don't see or hear colors in the same way.

i have a mild case of it - often getting an impression of a color from music and definitely getting strong color flashes from various emotions. this one must be more common, or there wouldn't be phrases like, i saw red for angry moments. i see color less in anger and more in moments of deep love and happiness and contentment - and they are generally warm blue-greens (probably why i painted my blue room blue), tho' i also see deep, rich purples and sometimes yellow and orange.

anyway, synesthesia continues to fascinate and when i came across this performance of russian composer scriabin's attempt at composing a synesthetic symphony, i had to share it.

russian composer scriabin's prometheus: poem of fire
an unfinished, unrealized synaesthetic work (he meant for it to be performed in the himilayas).
performed instead in a concert hall at yale.
i love how anna gowboy, the scriabin scholar behind the project, put it:
 "tonight is the future of the past."

a version of it was also done at the university of iowa sometime in the 70s.
but lasers have come a long way since then.

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fantastic images by edward burtynsky
check especially his shipbreaking photos from bangladesh.
thanks bill, for the link!

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do you know where your antipode is?

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