I've seen a very interesting article about Melissa S. McCracken on Bored Panda a while ago and I just wanted to share it here on the blog too. Melissa is a brilliant artist and her paintings are truly something worth checking out. Apart from the fact that's she amazing at her craft, she can also paint the music she hears. Yup. This is the outcome of a neurological phenomenon called synesthesia.
|John Lennon: Imagine|
Can you imagine a world in which you can see numbers and letters as colored, even though they're printed in black? A world in which words can fill your mouth with unusual flavors, music can trigger a swirl of moving, colored shapes, the visual perception of a car can taste like soft, squishy gum, the name "Michael" can smell like roses etc. Synesthesia is a neurological phenomenon that couples two or more senses in approximately 4% of the population. A synesthete might not only hear your voice, but also taste it, see it, or feel it as a physical touch. One in 90 among us experience graphemes (the written elements of language such as letters, numerals, and punctuation marks) as saturated with color. For some, written elements can even have gender or personality. So, for a certain synesthete, number 8 can be outgoing and sporty and number 11 can be an egoistic, elitist boy. Synesthesia is considered a trait (like having blue eyes) rather than a disorder, because there's nothing really wrong with you if you experience it. In fact, all the extra hooks endow synesthetes with superior memories. Synesthetes inherit a biological propensity for hyperconnnecting brain neurons, but in order to develop it to the fullest potential, they must be exposed to cultural artifacts (alphabets, food names, calendars). The amazing thing is that a single nucleotide change in the sequence of one's DNA alters perception. In this way, synesthesia also provides a path to understanding subjective differences of how two people can see the same thing differently. It's also worth mentioning that you don't need to have a special DNA mutation to experience synesthesia, because it can also occur to anybody under certain conditions, for example during deep meditation or concentration, sensory deprivation, or with use of some hallucinogenic drugs (such as LSD or mescaline).
Until the age of 15, Melissa always thought that everyone else is constantly seeing colors too; colors in math formulas, at concerts, in books. She didn't think there was anything special going on in her brain, until she finally asked her brother which color the letter C was. At that point she realized that her mind wasn't as normal as she had thought. She describes her brain as cross-wired, because she experiences "wrong" sensations to certain stimuli. Each letter and number is colored and the days of the year circle around her body. But there's one specific aspect of her "brain malfunction" that she likes the most: seeing the music she listens to. Her perception of music can be described as a flow of different hues, textures, and movements, and they're shifting as if they were vital and intentional elements of each song. She doesn't think of synesthesia as distracting or disorienting, quite the contrary, she considers it a welcome addition to her experiences.
As I've already mentioned, Melissa paints in oils and acrylics to express and exhibit the beautiful colors that she perceives on a daily basis. Enjoy her vibrant synesthetic world of music!
|David Bowie: Life On Mars?|
|John Mayer: Gravity|
|Led Zeppelin: Since I've Been Loving You|
One word: rad.