Laura Herman is a multidisciplinary artist and researcher, focusing on multisensory perception and creative expression. Her artwork has been exhibited at the Tate, published in the Wall Street Journal, and commissioned by several text-based art collectors. Currently, she is a researcher at Adobe, where she works on developing and testing various creative tools, and at Oxford University, where her research focuses on technology-based art practices. She has published nearly a dozen academic journal articles in the realms of perception, human-computer interaction, digital art practice, and design research. Particularly relevant to this project, she previously discovered the underlying frequency-based correlations of grapheme-color synesthesia. Her work on this topic has been published in peer-reviewed journal articles and presented at several international conferences. A synesthete herself, she has also written the definition of synesthesia for the Encyclopedia Britannica.
Here, view two of Laura’s projects, Abduct the Ouevre and Syn(aesthetic).
Abduct the Oeuvre
In this project, discarded palettes become fodder for poetic provocation. By unnaturally forcing a bi-directional synesthetic experience, the artist translates colors into words (typically, only words become colors). Each brushstroke contains a multitude of shades; similarly, each word contains a collection of hues for a grapheme-color synesthete. Each letter has a precise color, and the letters– and, therefore, colors– that make up a word are weighted differently, resulting in a variable algorithm of sorts. Here, the artist pores over dictionaries, searching for the lone entry that perfectly matches a given brushstroke. After each brushstroke has been paired with its semantic counterpart, the words are creatively recombined into poetry. This results in poetic word-neighbors that would be nearly impossible to predict, and are likely nonexistent in any known corpus: an abducted oeuvre, a torquing nymph, lagging tomfoolery, and kinetic pores on a zirconium quilt. Leo Kang contributed to some pieces in this project.
“Seeing is also creating.”Goethe
This project explores the theory and examples of specific aesthetics driven by grapheme-color synesthesia. Grapheme-color synesthesia is a crossover neuropsychological sensation in which one’s perception of letters, numbers, and symbols is automatically and involuntarily associated with the experience of specific colors. Here, the synesthetic aesthetic is deconstructed through an inverse engagement with poetry, music, and other grapheme-based media. Enhanced by the tangibility of typewriting, words become microcosms of chromatic texture, replacing the flatly desaturated marks we call letters.