Colourama - Conversations with Synaesthetes (2018)

  What: An audio documentary & art installation about synaesthesia, a curious neurological condition where sounds are experienced as colours. 

The project was created for the Festival of the Mind, where the podcast was played to a live audience over wireless headphones in a pop-up circus tent in Sheffield city centre. 

What is synaesthesia?

Synaesthesia is a neurological condition experienced by roughly 4% of the UK population. The word synaesthesia is Greek in origin, and loosely means 'union of the senses'.

Stimulation of one sense (hearing a sound) triggers a second unrelated sense (seeing a colour). So for example, you might experience a general ‘feeling’ of orange in the mind’s eye when you hear the intro to ‘7 Nation Army’ by The White Stripes. 

We spoke to synaesthetes (people with synaesthesia) from all walks of life, and asked them to describe and compare their own unique experiences.

 When: The podcast aired at the Festival of the Mind in 2018 and was heard by the Sheffield public on 100 sets of wireless headphones in a pop-up circus tent. We held a live Q&A with 3 synaesthetes and two university researchers.

You can now hear the documentary in full online via the player at the top of this page. 

We also designed and built an installation for the Millenium Gallery where visitors could enter a sensory booth and hear excerpts from the podcast while interacting with digital artwork. 

  Who: Colourama is a collaboration between director Thomas Wilson, and Renee Timmers + Caroline Curwen from University of Sheffield Music Dept.

  What now? Be part of the reseach - Curious to see if you might have synaesthesia? We invite you to complete this very short questionnaire, share your experiences, and to add to our research.

We’d like to thank the Festival of the Mind for supporting this unique project, our interviewees, and the talented Isan & Kosta T for providing the podcast soundtrack. 

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