Lochaber High School students Maddie Lennon, William Landsborough and Jennifer McKenna worked with Room 13 Artist in Residence Audrey O Brien to present Synaesthesia, an interactive art workshop using new digital media to explore Synaesthesia, a condition that can make you see sounds as colours.
Taking over a corridor on the second floor of Lochaber High School, the artists splashed colour into the minds of a lunchtime audience. The school is newly refurbished and it is forbidden to hang anything onto the walls. Artist Audrey has been encouraging the group to take ownership of the white spaces and propose changes through visual art ideas and events. This temporal event was the outcome of the Ideas group which developed through a series of quick lunchtime conversations, building tours and ideas sharing.
The idea came from one of the artist’s experience of synaesthesia. The artists used technology new to the school – a creative electronic tool with touch sensors to present this invention to their audience. Four musical tracks were selected from Maddie’s personal collection and uploaded to a touch board. People touched the interactive surface to set off an audio sensor. MP3 files were played and the audience was to select a colour to represent what they “saw” when listing to the four musical tracks.
Pupils and teachers found common ground in thinking and discussing colour and sound perception, and the following comments were made in response to the piece:
Interesting project – I could “see” shape easier for violin but colour for the others.
Very interesting, I loved the idea of this.
I seemed to relate a colour to trumpets and violins which coincided with someone else’s’ choice → weird!
I was most confident of the drums – pink and red and pulsing. The violin was pretty intensely purple too. Very cool, thought provoking project!
Very interesting and fun. Have been using colour as a relaxation tool, related to memory and the colour → related to a shape and sound.
Interesting, weird, but very easy to see colours – so cool!
This is a great idea! it really made me think about the sounds.
Love the idea of this and its a great way to try and understand how some people see, hear, touch and smell the world.
Its really strange but it shows how certain colours mean different things to people.
Artists: Maddie Lennon, William Landsborough and Jennifer McKenna
Photography & Film: Jennifer McKenna, Zuzia Kruk, Audrey O’Brien
Technology: Bare Conductive Touch Board
Tame Impala – Feels Like We Only Go Backwards
Wynton Marsalis – I Can’t Get Started
Rimsky-Korsakov – Scheherazade- IV. Festival at Baghdad – The Sea – The Ship Breaks [Part 4-4]
Spirited Away OST One Summers Day
Audrey O Brien was appointed by Room 13 International in 2015/16 to work with pupils and staff to develop and deliver a series of cross curricular projects and creative engagements at Lochaber High School. Audrey’s role, and the many projects she effected during her residency with Room 13, was made possible with project funding from Highland Youth Arts Hub and supported by Creative Scotland’s Time to Shine initiative.
When sound triggers the visualization of colored, generic shapes, sound-to-color synesthesia is at play. For certain people, the stimuli are limited, and only a few types of sounds will trigger a perception. However, there are cases wherein many different sounds trigger color visualizations. Usually, the perceived colors appear in generic shapes – squares, circles, etc. http://www.synesthesiatest.org/types-of-synesthesia
Synaesthesia is a condition where a sensation in one of the senses, such as hearing, triggers a sensation in another, such as taste. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/synaesthesia/Pages/Introduction.aspx
The five most common forms are:
Young artists from three Lochaber schools have been making use of Outlandia, the treehouse and artists’ field station in Glen Nevis, as part of a programme of workshops for very young artists being run by Room 13 with support from the Highland Youth Arts Hub. In May 2016, three school groups were invited to Outlandia to participate in a series of projects with local artists Ali Berardelli and Jen Deschenes.
Spean Bridge Primary School P6/7 class worked with the artists to illustrate an ancient Gaelic poem, Allt an t-Siùcair (The Sugar Burn) by Alasdair mac Mhaighstir Alasdair which explores the landscape around a burn in west Lochaber and used screen printing to create final images that have been on display in Outlandia. A sound work accompanied the images. The group travelled to Glen Nevis and walked to Outlandia to view their artwork and also to participate in a drawing and printing activity making mini sketchbooks from Outlandia. The groups were accompanied by Ruari Watt, Forestry Commission’s Communites, Recreation and Tourism Ranger who provided activities and information for all the pupils leading the pupils on adventures through the forest.
A group from the Learning Support Base at Lochaber High School worked with music therapist and teacher Clare Reynolds when they spent time at Outlandia. The group also worked with Ali Austin, the Nevis Property Manager with the John Muir Trust making journey sticks, a method of interpreting and illustrating the journey to Outlandia.
Lundavra Primary 6/7 class visited the West Highland Museum as part of the Outlandia project to view the [wish] [miann] exhibition by Ali Berardelli and Jen Deschenes currently on show until later in the summer. The group then walked from Lundavra School across the Cow Hill to Outlandia where they participated in a drawing workshop and forest craft with Ruari Watt from Forestry Commission Scotland.
“This was a wonderful opportunity for young people to explore Glen Nevis and Outlandia; the pupils tried out different drawing techniques and were encouraged to look closely at the environment and make images that related to this. Taking groups to Outandia has been a real adventure, travelling on the different routes there and everyone enjoyed the experience. Working with a variety of people, artists, rangers, teachers has been very successful and we hope to be able to expand on this project in future years.We are thankful to Room 13 International who have afforded this opportunity.”
Ali Berardelli, lead artist ‘Very Young Artists at Outlandia’ project
This project has been a great example of partnership working within the Lochaber community, from schools, Nevis Landscape Partnership, Forestry Commission Scotland, John Muir Trust, Room 13 International, the Highland Youth Arts Hub, and individual artists. The outcomes from the project and images will be available on the Outlandia blog and website.
Post Author: Ali Berardelli
Ali Berardelli is a visual artist and project manager who lives locally in Fort William. Having been brought up in Lochaber, graduating from Glasgow School of Art in Illustration, and working within the Highland Council in arts development, Ali has been very involved in local community development work and has a strong interest in the visual arts. Ali has a young family and has worked with schools and community groups throughout the area helping to foster creativity in our community.
Jen Deschenes is a textile based artist and designer who comes from the island of Whalsay, off the Shetland mainland. A strong interest in history has led her to design intricate embroidery work and explore printed mediums. Jen has made her home in Spean Bridge and has two children. She has exhibited her artwork widely to international acclaim.
Clare Reynolds is a cellist, music therapist, and support for learning teacher who works with over 100 children from age 6 months to 18 years on a weekly basis in Fort William. She was raised in Lochaber and returned to the area with her family and has since provided extensive musical knowledge and developed unique opportunities for people to engage with music across the community.
Outlandia is an off-grid, treehouse studio imagined by artists London Fieldworks and designed by Edinburgh based Malcolm Fraser Architects. Inspired by childhood dens, wildlife hides and bothies, by forest outlaws and Japanese poetry platforms, it is located in a copse of Norwegian Spruce and Larch in Glen Nevis on Forestry Commission land at the foot of Ben Nevis in the Scottish Highlands, approximately three miles from the town of Fort William. Outlandia is an artist-led project built as a multi-purpose platform for the use of diverse community groups as well as selected artists and is in line with The Scottish Forestry Strategy that aims to create opportunities for more people to enjoy trees, woods and forests in Scotland, and to help communities benefit from woods and forests.
Other participating organisations:
Forestry Commission Scotland http://www.forestry.gov.uk
John Muir Trust https://www.johnmuirtrust.org
Highland Youth Arts Hub http://hyah.co.uk