The Ultimate Magical Synaesthesia Machine

Rob Young

  • BuyThe Music of Painting by Peter Vergo
    Phaidon, 367 pp, £39.95, November 2010, ISBN 978 0 7148 5762 6

‘Can one imagine anything in the arts,’ Louis-Bertrand Castel wrote in 1763, ‘which would surpass the visible rendering of sound, which would enable the eyes to partake of all the pleasures which music gives to the ears?’ That would, it’s easy to admit, be quite a spectacle. But would it be the future of art, the logical outcome of whatever synthesising tendency the arts might have? That’s another question entirely. If it was going to happen at all, it was most likely during the futurist frenzy of the early 20th century. Peter Vergo, in The Music of Painting, examines a neglected aspect of the modernist era, when a variety of painters, poets, composers and inventors became preoccupied with the convergence of visual and aural stimuli – a utopian race towards a future of total sensory immersion.

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