We see colours everyday, and actually we all have a different perception of what a particular colour looks like. For example, I don’t appreciate the colour yellow particularly, yet others can see the colour yellow totally differently to the way I see it. So how would you feel if your brain translated sound into colour? This is the case for Melissa McCracken.
McCracken has synesthesia. Synesthesia is described as “a perceptual phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway”. In McCracken’s example her brain translate sound waves into colour, but she also sees colours in the written word. She didn’t actually realise that she was different until asking her brother what colour the letter C was when she was 15. (In case you’re wondering its Canary yellow…as said on her website).
Now if you are wondering if this is a hinderance to McCraken’s everyday life, she is quoted as saying:-
“Basically, my brain is cross-wired. I experience the “wrong” sensation to certain stimuli. Each letter and number is colored and the days of the year circle around my body as if they had a set point in space. But the most wonderful “brain malfunction” of all is seeing the music I hear. It flows in a mixture of hues, textures, and movements, shifting as if it were a vital and intentional element of each song. Having synesthesia isn’t distracting or disorienting. It adds a unique vibrance to the world I experience.”
The above picture is McCracken’s interpretation of “All I need” by Radiohead. I find this absolutely mesmerising as an interpretation of sound. There is a real sweeping motion to the art which seems to build to a crescendo in the bottom left corner. It is dreamlike in its appearance and enchanting to the eye.
If you want to find out more about McCracken or see more of her art work you can view it here
If you would like to listen to Radiohead while viewing this picture you can find the song here
“You are all I need
You’re all I need
I’m in the middle of your picture
Lying in the reeds”