- Assistant Professor
- University of Denver
At the Crossroads of the Senses: The Synaesthetic Metaphor Across the Arts in European Modernism
Inspired by Richard Wagner’s idea of the total artwork, modernist artists sought to conflate poetry, music, and painting in various multimedia projects. To evoke their ideal of artistic synthesis, they used the potent yet slippery metaphor of synaesthesia: the figurative or neurological blending of colors, sounds, and shapes. By weaving together literary, musical, and visual works with scientific theories of synaesthesia, “At the Crossroads of the Senses” contends that modernist multimedia experiments stemmed from a fascination with color-hearing, while synaesthetic metaphors promoted future adaptations across mediums. By examining the multimodal styles of eight major artists, the book argues that synaesthesia was a key component of the modernist aesthetic, and the catalyst for the time’s explosion of inter-art endeavors.
At the Crossroads of the Senses: Synaesthesia in Art and Science – A Digital Companion
Interweaving literature, music, and art with neuroscience, “At the Crossroads of the Senses” shows how Modernist multimedia experiments stemmed from a fascination with synaesthesia, the figurative or physiological mixing of the senses. Its standalone media-rich digital companion offers audiovisual examples with clear short blurbs that would appeal to general audiences. It viscerally embodies the text with images, videos, and visualizations for a non-linear reading of synaesthesia. By tagging artists, scientists, and senses, it reveals new linkages between the senses and the arts and conjures the synaesthetic dimension of the book. Beyond the book, it adds a new Bulgarian pathway and brings East European synaesthesia into the present with works by Sharov, Gospodinov, and Petrova.