Concordia Sensoria Research Team (CONSERT) Doctoral Students
Animating the Senses: How Synesthesia Unfolds in a Haptic Act of Listening


Olga Zikrata
Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Humanities
Concordia University

This research project centers around the areas of aesthetics, interdisciplinary arts and Slavic studies. It is concerned with how to talk about those works of art that are addressed to the ear through other sensory organs. For example, silent films, visual music, or verbal symphonies. It suggests that aesthetic experience with these works could be composed through a haptic act of listening, which unfolds in the encounters with the unconscious and the aware-of, the affective and the emotional, the virtual and the actual. Drawing from the current discourse on synesthesia and Gilles Deleuze's concept of haptic vision, this project asks what a synesthetic body can do and how it explains sensation, affect, and movement.

The study approaches theoretical writings and art works by some Slavic artists who attempted to challenge differentiation of the senses and the arts. These writings along with the produced works of art allow to trace extensions of one art into another. The extensions could be thought as gestures of transvestism among the arts, which indicate how one art reaches towards the other. This reaching-towards is gesturality of one art becoming-other that is felt through the lines of flight between the visual, the tactile, the proprioceptive, and the audible, for example, in aesthetic experience.

The investigation will include reviewing knowledge in different fields of studies, current reports of synesthetic experiences available through internet synesthesia group, personal accounts of the artists, and synesthesia generated art movement in the early twentieth century Russia. Through exploration of synesthesia and a haptic act of listening, this study hopes to offer an alternative port of entry into the discourse of multi-sensory aesthetics in the fields of Slavic studies, film studies, music, visual arts, and literature.