Moscow may be known as the third Rome yet it is first in the hearts of participants who attended Synaesthesia: Cross-Sensory Aspects of Cognition Across Science and Art. This 5 day series of events launched October 16th, 2019 with a press conference at the headquarters of RIA Novosti, Russia’s largest provider of international news. Representatives from IASAS, the Tchaikovsky Conservatory, and the American Synesthesia Association gathered for a lively dialogue moderated by Natalia Loseva, on the topic Synaesthesia: study of the phenomenon and its role in art and creativity. Participants included IASAS president Sean A. Day, art historian and associate professor at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory Elena Rovenko, artist and ASA president Carol Steen, synaesthesia historian Jörg Jewanski, IASAS secretary CC Hart, musician and neuroscientist Kaitlyn Hova, and IASAS board member Anton Dorso, head of the research group “Synesthesia: children and parents” at the center for interdisciplinary research of modern childhood MGPPU, and senior lecturer at Moscow State University for Psychology and Education.
A public lecture, concert, and exhibition at the Museum of Moscow followed the press conference. An installation featuring IASAS participating artists and including works by Art Sensorium surrounded the audience for an opening talk by IASAS president Dr. Sean A. Day. Concert pianist Dr. Svetlana Rudenko wowed the crowd with her energetic rendition of Scriabin’s Sonata No5, opus 53 in F sharp major, accompanied by visuals created by professor Maura McDonnell from Trinity College, Dublin Ireland. Kaitlyn Hova introduced the audience to her invention the Hovalin, a 3-D printed violin created in collaboration with her husband Matt Hova, and Christine Söffing immersed the crowd in an experimental music soundscape. A VIP gathering at Proviant Cafe closed out the evening.
Moscow State University of Psychology and Education hosted the initial two days of the symposium. After welcome addresses by MSUPE president Dr. Vasily Rubistov and Dr. Konstantin Zenkin from the Tchaikovsky Conservatory, Dr. Richard Cytowic, MD, PhD, MFA opened the conference with a keynote speech “Synesthesia: what do we know? What do we want to know?” Dr. Konstantin Zenkin followed with his presentation “The Musical: its essence and place in art”. Additional speakers on our opening morning at MSUPE included IASAS Science Director Dr. Romke Rouw, Dr. Jamie Ward from the University of Sussex, and Dr. Beat Meier from the University of Bern.
Poster presentations were hung on the third floor of MSUPE and included papers in large scale visual format from Argentina (Gaby Cardoso), Australia (Joshua Berger), China (Ninghui Xiong), Russia (S. Y. Uzilov and J. Slovachevskaya) Scotland (Anna MasCasasdesus), and the USA (Appelusa Fleming-McGlynn, CC Hart, Anna Mantheakis). Topics included synaesthetic perceptions of musical frequencies, dance and synaesthesia, and differences in intermodal attention, among other topics.
Christos Parapakgidis, a multimedia artist from Greece, displayed his work “Solomon’s Case” at MSUPE. Visitors to the interactive installation participated in scent and taste encounters as they viewed a multimedia exhibit on Russia’s most famous synaesthete. Additionally, our art exhibit featuring works from an international selection of artists made the move from the Museum of Moscow to MSUPE. Interactive installations from Playtronica and Art Sensorium created a sensory feast for visitors to the gallery.
A concert at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory closed out the first day of the conference. Musical performances included Svetlana Rudenko, Kaitlin Hova and Matt Hova, and the Flowers of Hell, featuring Greg Jarvis, founder of the Canadian Synesthesia Association, with Daniella Friesen, Sean Matthew Berry, Stephen Head, and Ian Edward Thorn.
The IASAS presented more than 50 unique speakers at Moscow State University of Psychology and Education before moving on Saturday, October 19th to the Tchaikovsky Conservatory for the final two days of the conference. Our art exhibit was installed in a lobby gallery, and our speakers presented on topics including synaesthesia in regard to digital arts, olfaction and art, image, movement, and gesture, music cognition and aesthetics.
The evening of October 19th 2021 brought conference participants together at the St. Regis Moscow Rooftop Hall for an elegant dinner. Kaitlyn Hova entertained the diners with a selection of tunes on her Hovalin. Polina Dimova gave us an impromptu performance of traditional Russian folksongs on the Hova’s glowing 3d printed violin.
Our final day of the conference included papers on cross-sensory aspects of cognition in comparative literature and musicology, screen arts and visual technology, along with a session focused on historical representations of visual music. Sunday’s presentations closed with a roundtable dialogue on the future of synaesthesia conferences and the topics participants would like to see addressed at the next event.
Synaesthesia: Cross_sensory Aspects of Cognition Across Science and Art closed with a concert in the Tchaikovsky Conservatory’s Rachmaninoff Hall with Playtronica’s performance of experimental music in collaboration with an academic chamber orchestra conducted by Gregory Carroll. Peter Theremin was a special guest performer on the eponymous instrument created by his grandfather.
Moscow was a wonderful host for our 5 days of art, science and synaesthesia. We had almost 300 participants from 25 countries and presentations from over 100 individuals. These events were captured by director Ola Pankratova who is working with her film crew on a documentary about synaesthesia. We will keep you posted as we learn more about this exciting project.
See you in 2021 for our Washington DC symposium and events!
CC Hart, IASAS Secretary