Synaesthesia & art

Multisensory perception is a powerful contributor to the arts. Even the visual dominance of classical arts like drawing and painting can essentially be enriched by transformations of sound, smell, taste and tactile perception into the sense of vision. Objects can be depicted which may look soft or hard, lightweight or heavy, smooth or rough, exciting or boring, awkward or comfortable. Knowledge on the chances of such multisensory up-load of art, however, is not widespread. Wilful application is beneficial for classical as well as contemporary arts such as online approaches and VR. And even design enhances its capabilities for better usability and comfort of products.


Every human being intuitively facilitates connections between the various senses. Simply spoken, without such perceptual processes, living would not at all be possible. Nonetheless, it is a challenge to gain public awareness about the possibilities, or, vice versa, the lack of systematic consideration of all senses for creative configurations.

Due to the fact that the perceptual system in general includes the capability of interactions between the senses, a multisensory work can be understood by a broad community. But there are further possibilities given by individual phenomena like synaesthetic perception.


Synaesthesia means the capability of the perceptual system to induce perception within one sensual modality by stimulation of a different sensual area. Similar phenomena are pronounced at relatively few individuals. Occurrences show a characteristic permanence throughout life. Frequently, visual perception is caused by auditory stimulation. In principle, synaesthesia can occur between all senses. Such connections are also observed within one sensory space. In that manner, numbers and letters can occur with an additional subjective colour during a process of visual perception or imagination. Synaesthesia thus not only refers to input of the sensory organs or from sensory memory, but furthermore to cognitive concepts as well as emotions.


Synaesthesia is not a field of phenomena one can be proud of, because it is strictly inherent in the specific individual. It cannot be consciously modified and is not a matter of training. Indeed, it provides an extended pool of elements which are suitable to enrich an artwork. Such individual multisensory contributions provide uncommon excitement to spectators and can add emotional value. Synaesthetic art is thus result of an active creative processes and skilled craft, which in contrast to the fixed synaesthetic perception itself can be subject of systematic development and stylistic adaption.

This website is intended to provide insight into the use of multisensory contributions and the inclusion of synaesthetic phenomena into artistic works. We hope this enhances awareness about the contribution of the various senses and may inspire own exciting approaches.



Michael Haverkamp

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