This is what David Bowie’s Life On Mars looks like. At least to artist Melissa McCracken. This isn’t just super abstract creativity – Melissa actually sees music in her head because of extra connections in her brain due to a condition called synesthesia. As she explains on her webpage,
“Basically, my brain is cross-wired. I experience the “wrong” sensation to certain stimuli. Each letter and number is colored and the days of the year circle around my body as if they had a set point in space. But the most wonderful “brain malfunction” of all is seeing the music I hear. It flows in a mixture of hues, textures, and movements, shifting as if it were a vital and intentional element of each song. Having synesthesia isn’t distracting or disorienting. It adds a unique vibrance to the world I experience.”
John Lennon – Imagine
John Mayer – Gravity
Jimi Hendrix – Little Wing
Interestingly enough, I did a little research and found that all these artists also have synesthesia. I wonder if it’s simply coincidence, or if there’s a reason she picked these pieces by other synesthetes to paint. And what do these artists think their music looks like? It would be fun to compare.
I also am a synesthete and I find it very difficult to draw a piece’s shape and color in general because it’s constantly shifting with the music. I’d like to know if this is a visualization in general, or if she paused at a particularly colorful point and then drew it. Where did she stop? The beginning of the chorus? The end of a verse? Anyway, it’s fun to see other’s perception of music.