Imagine you could visualize sounds as color and texture, or perhaps hear colors, feel sounds, and taste shapes. This is how people with synesthesia experience the world. It is a neurological condition where the brain processes stimulation in a way that allows the person to experience several senses at one time. Amsterdam-based artist Daniel Mullen explores this fascinating sensory phenomenon with an ongoing painting series titled Synesthesia.
Made in in collaboration with artist, filmmaker, and synesthete Lucy Engelman, Mullen visualizes how she perceives time, numbers, and letters. Mullen explains in an artist statement, “In Lucy’s case, when she sees or thinks about time and numbers […] she experiences a different color sequence in her mind’s eye.” He continues, “Essentially, she has an ever changing complex and luminous filter to view the abstract concepts of our world.”
Although Mullen doesn’t experience synesthesia himself, Engelman claims his paintings are the nearest visualization she’s ever seen of her experience. At first glance, Mullen’s artwork looks like three-dimensional sheets of colorful plexiglass, arranged in geometric rows and sequences. However, each incredible piece is meticulously painted with a steady hand, rendered in bright, rainbow hues. Each piece represents how Engelman experiences various times. For example, the 1950’s-80’s are visualized with 3D “sheets” of vibrant pink, orange, blue and green. In another piece, representing ancient times between 5132-5097 AD, the colors appear softer, and the lines are thinner.