Sunday, 24 October 2010

Nature Scientific Merit Award

Just had a press release from the recently finished Imagine Science Film Festival in New York. We've won the Nature Scientific merit award! I'm really thrilled, it's a huge honour.

"The 2010 ISFF AWARDS ANNOUNCED!
Scientific Merit Award - $2,500



The 2010 jury, consisting of Carl Zimmer, Valerie Weiss and Randy Olson, have selected  "An Eyeful of Sound" as the winner of the Nature Scientific Merit Award.The Nature Scientific Merit Award is awarded to a short film that exemplifies science in narrative filmmaking in a compelling, credible and inspiring manner. "

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Feedback from synaesthetes

In the past week since coming back from Nashvile I've had some lovely e-mails from people who saw the Eyeful of Sound presentation or have seen the film as a result of it. It's particularly relevant to me to hear from synaesthetic people, because only they can tell me if it's 'right'.

There were a couple of other animators at the conference, one of whom, Chad Sikora, is working with artist Carol Steen in translating her synaesthetic reactions into moving image. Chad works in After Effects and the work Carol screened (both still and moving) was beautiful. There's an interesting article here, written by Julliard professor Greta Berman, about an exhibition of synaesthetic art which Greta co-curated and featured Carol's work. Greta gave a talk about the impact of the exhibition and screened some stunning work.

Another artist/animator was Carrie C. Firman, who is also synaesthetic. She has a wonderful website where she has a 'synaesthetic library' of flash animations which I really encourage you to have a look at - it's compelling and so 'right' even to a non-syaesthetic brain like mine!

Carrie's synaesthetic library. You can click on the imagesto see the movement and hear the trigger sound

Carrie kindly wrote me some feedback about my presentation and film, which I think is relevant about the representation of synaesthesia in general, not just in my work;

"I wanted to express again how much I enjoyed your presentation! I just watched the DVD twice and loved it! As I'm sure others told you at the conference, even though the animations may not be "ours," we synesthetes are drawn to authentic representations, and yours is certainly one.

For me, my pulse starts to quicken and I can't take my eyes off of it, and I get quite excited when I see something that is close to my own reaction. It was also exciting to watch in my peripheral vision, I think because when my concentrated focus was elsewhere it made the video be in a closer "place" to my mind's eye."

Wow. Really interesting about the peripheral vision. Before working on this project I thought that everyone's "mind's eye" was the same as mine, but I've realised that that isn't the case. Some synaesthetic people experience their reactions inside their heads (an associator) and some outside (a projector). Some I've spoken to have their reaction on, or in relations to, their body. One person I spoke to saw a musical note as a vibrating wooly blanket hovering at waist level. Another saw a note as a chocolatey silken swirl surrounding and enveloping their body.

At the conference we were all really struck by the intelligent questions and interesting point of view articulated by a 10 (nearly 11) year old boy called Thomas who was there with his mum, Cydne. Thomas has synaesthesia and is really interested in it so Cydne brought him to the ASA conference to find out more about it. What an amazing mum! She passed this on to me:

"Thank you for giving my son Thomas a copy of your gorgeous film.  He showed it to his class today.  Last year he tried to tell the kids in his class about synesthesia using mere language but seemed to fall short.  When he showed them your film today they seemed to get it.  They all asked tons of questions and thought it was very cool.  I just wanted to thank you again and let you know that it was really helpful to him and enlightening to everyone who saw it."

I'm so pleased that he liked the film and found it helpful, but seriously I think that Thomas will be telling us all about synaesthesia in another ten years or so. He is a super bright spark.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Back from Music City


Had a great time in Nashville - a fascinating conference (the American Synesthesia Association), with amazing people, great talks and a wonderful city.

My highlights of Nashville, aside from the conference, were:


BBQ brisket and pulled pork at Centennial Park
a basil ice lolly from Las Paletas, gourmet Mexican popsicle shop
seeing Dolly Parton's handwritten lyrics for 'Jolene' at the Country Music Hall of Fame
seeing the Dale Chihuly exhibition at the Frist art gallery
the proximity of cowboys and all things cowboy related