Event > Synaesthesia


Discussing a Phenomenon in the Arts, Humanities and (Neuro-)Science

Interdisciplinary Conference

As a theoretical addition to our exhibition series SYNAESTHESIA (October 2012 – July 2013), Art Laboratory Berlin held an international interdisciplinary conference to further explore and theoretically question the field of multisensory perception.

The term “synaesthesia”, from the Greek “aisthesis” (“Sensation”, “sensory impression”) and “syn” (“together”) means the experience of two or more sensory impressions at the same time. Currently there is a strikingly strong interest in the coupling of the senses in science, humanities and in contemporary art. This should come as no surprise: Our daily life in recent years has been subject to ever more multimedia and multisensory experiences. Comparing the latest technologies in the field of communication we come upon the radical technological development during the last 25 years: music video (text, music, colour), computer (as “total” sensory object) and also newest multiple forms of mobile phones (not only used for calls, but as a photo camera, music player or text machine, etc.).

It is the aim of Art Laboratory Berlin to grasp the specific impulses of our current complex, synchronous and technologised society on the phenomenon of synaesthesia, with its distinctive form of sensory fluctuation. For the conference, we were interested in discussing issues from diverse scholarly fields – humanities, arts as well as natural and social sciences – regarding both historical positions and contemporary inquiries. Topics included: synaesthesia and the neurological discourse (memory and cognition; sensory perception); synaesthesia – between perception and subjectivity; synaesthesia and language; synaesthetic modalities (grapheme synaesthesia; synaesthesia of smell, taste, touch, sound and vision); synaesthesia in art and cultural history (in visual art, literature and film); synaesthesia and the digital world (synaesthesia in the 21st century).

Conference Program and documentation

Download abstracts and biographies (PDF)

Friday, 5 July, 2013

The exhibition “Translating, Correcting, Archiving” will be open from 9AM-8PM.

9:30: Registration

Regine Rapp, Christian de Lutz (Art Laboratory Berlin)
Welcome and Introduction

Keynote / Moderator: Regine Rapp
Hinderk M. Emrich (Director of the Center for Psychological Medicine, Hannover)
Synaesthesia, Synaisthesis and the Enhancement of Coherence

11:30 // BREAK

Defining Synaesthesia // Moderator: Regine Rapp

Ditte Lyngkær Pedersen (Artist, Århus)
Why is Green a Red Word?

Sina A. Trautmann-Lengsfeld (Dept. of Neurophysiology and Pathophysiology, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg)
Multisensory Processing in Synaesthesia

13:45 // LUNCH BREAK

Translating Synaesthesia // Moderator: Christian de Lutz

Polina Dimova (Institute for Russian and Comparative Literature, Oberlin College, Ohio)
Synaesthesia at the Fin-de-Siècle: Art and Science

Eva-Maria Bolz (Artist, Berlin)
Der Innere Monitor

James Rosenow (Cinema and Media Studies, University of Chicago)
Translated Modes of Poe-etic Synaesthesia in Early Amateur Cinema (Charles Klein’s “The Telltale Heart” and J. Sibley Watson’s “The Fall of the House of Usher”)


Sound and Vision as Synaesthetic Phenomenon // Moderator: Chiara Cartuccia

Birgit Schneider (Institute for Arts and Media, University Potsdam)
On Hearing Eyes and Seeing Ears. Berlin Optophonia in the 1920s.

David Strang (Artist, Plymouth)
Transmission + Interference

19:00 Reception at Art Laboratory Berlin

Saturday, 6 July, 2013

The exhibition “Translating, Correcting, Archiving” will be open from 9AM-8PM.

Synaesthetic Sensations in Cultural History, Film and the Visual Arts // Moderator: Regine Rapp

Eva Kimminich (Institute for Romance Languages, University Potsdam)
The Five Senses: From Cooperation up to Specialization. Observations on a Historical Development
in the Occident

Caro Verbeek (Royal Academy of Arts Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam)
Inhaling History of Art – On the Role of Olfaction during the Avant-Garde

Gertrud Koch (Institute for Film Studies, Free University Berlin)
Word and Object in Film – a Synaesthetic Presentation


Synaesthetic Laboratories of Art & Science // Moderator: Olga Shmakova

Madi Boyd (Artist, London)
The Point of Perception – On Collaborations Between Artists and Neuroscientists

Agnieszka Janik (Dept. of Psychology, Goldsmiths, University of London)
Synaesthesia for Colour is Linked to Reduced Motion Perception


Synaesthesia and the 21st Century // Moderator: Christian de Lutz

Katharina Gsöllpointner/ Romana Schuler (Media Arts/ Art History, University of Applied Arts, Vienna)
Digital Synaesthesia – Introduction into a New Project

Romi Mikulinsky (Macquarie University, Sidney/ Bezalel Academy for Arts and Design, Jerusalem)
From Page to Screen – The Presence and Future of Reading

Final Discussion


Theater Glaskasten,
Prinzenallee 33, 13359 Berlin

Date and time

5 – 6 July 2013


Regine Rapp & Christian de Lutz


Regine Rapp, Christian de Lutz, Olga
Shmakova, Chiara Cartuccia, Chiara Massari, Anastasia Shavlokhova, Ashley Chang

Photo & VIDEO documentation

Tim Deussen
Video editing by Eirini Kokkinidou

Cooperation partners

Media partners

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