Ice-Blue Chords for the Violet Hour: Notes on Synaesthesia, Trauma, and Musical Untalkables/Unknowables With Jenny Olivia Johnson
In this talk, Johnson will describe how her long-term interest in the phenomenon of synaesthesia, or the involuntary experience of one sensory stimulus (such as sound) activating another sense (such as taste, smell, vision, or touch), has impacted her research on music and traumatic memories, as well as her work as a composer and sound artist. Johnson explores some ways in which synaesthesia can comprise a modality for remembering and assimilating fragmentary traumatic experiences through an embodied language of equivalencies between colors, lights, sounds, and sensations relevant to overwhelming events. She muses upon how the mysterious and sometimes indescribable—or, in Mantle Hood’s words, “untalkable”—nature of synaesthetic perceptions relates to the equally mysterious nature of certain kinds of traumatic experiences and memories, which can defy narrative logic, or can feel simultaneously intrusive and unknowable. Johnson then discusses how her creative practices have been informed by her work on these topics, and suggests that making art as part of a research plan, especially in collaboration with others, can provide a powerful and sometimes unexpected set of perspectives on one’s thinking and ideas.
This event is sponsored by the UCLA School of Music.