The American Synesthesia Association begins their 11th annual conference today in Miami. Over the next few days, synesthetes and the researchers who study synesthesia will come together at the University of Miami campus for a series of lectures and discussions. The papers presented include several focused on neuroscience research along with others that explore the intersection of art and synesthesia. The schedule offers social gatherings as well that provide participants with an opportunity to connect. The weekend conference is hosted by Dr. Berit Brogaard, who is both a synesthete and a leading researcher in the field.
I wish I was able to attend the ASA conference, as I would so love to personally engage with the larger synesthesia community. One of the challenges that comes with having synesthesia is that the specificity of the synesthetic experience to each individual synesthete can be isolating; no two synesthetes are alike. For example, my spatial-sequential synesthesia is unique to me in regard to color, locus, and import. It is very unlikely any other synesthete experiences the same shades for their months of the year, nor would another synesthete perceive those colored months in the same location in three dimensional space where I perceive mine.
I get really excited that October is here because the color of this month is the most lovely golden-yellow, which fills me with a sense of optimism and hope. This is a very personal sensation, and it is challenging to accurately convey to my friends, my family, and my readers what it is about the color of October and its location in relationship to my body that makes it one of my favorite months. However, there’s something refreshing that comes with connecting with other synesthetes, who most certainly do not share my exact sensory experience, but who do share the awkward dissonance that can come with synesthetic perception.
I have found the online synesthesia community to be wonderfully supportive and inclusive, and I’ve connected with the most interesting and diverse group of synesthetes via Facebook, Twitter and this Vox Synesthetica blog. I just wish I had the opportunity this weekend to broaden my circle of fellow “synners” by participating in the ASA conference. Many of my online synesthete friends are in Miami right now; I so look forward to learning about your experiences at this important gathering.
I have a quiescent sound-to-shape/texture synesthesia that tends to linger in the background of my psyche. It doesn’t disrupt my awareness in the ways my mirror-touch synesthesia constantly zaps me with sensation. But, it’s still present, mostly when I hear music without vocals. Or sudden loud noises. At the top of this page is a quick illustration of the horn section in Bing Crosby’s “Moon Over Miami“, which appears to me as vertical, wavering shapes that broaden and taper. I wish Bing’s velvety voice gave me sensations greater than goosebumps. But they’ll do….