Thesis Info

Thesis Title
Sounds Are Objects - Understanding Creativity with Sound through Embodied Cognition
Leon Radschinski-Gorman
2nd Author
3rd Author
MA Art and Science
Number of Pages
University of the Arts London
Thesis Supervisor
Susan Aldworth
Supervisor e-mail
saldworth.t21 AT
Other Supervisor(s)
Language(s) of Thesis
Department / Discipline
Cognitive Science
Languages Familiar to Author
English, German
URL where full thesis can be found
Embodied, Cognition, Conceptual, Metaphor, Synaesthesia, Crossmodal, Audiovisual, Creativity, Sound
Abstract: 200-500 words
This essay presents a cross-modal and embodied account of creativity with sound in order to understand better the processes involved in being creative. First, examples of language will be presented to demonstrate the essential metaphoric vocabulary for sound experience; interpreting George Lakoff’s and Mark Johnson’s work on conceptual metaphor, this language will be used to evidence fundamental conceptualisations of sound alongside examples of creative choices in audio-visual work. The embodied groundings for these metaphors will be presented to explain why, for instance, sound pressure wave frequency is able to be mapped to verticality, giving us the metaphors ‘high’ and ‘low’ for pitch. The argument that creativity is dependent on embodied experience will be examined by tying together conceptual metaphor theory with research in the neurological basis of synaesthesia, in particular Vilayanur Ramachandran and Edward Hubbard’s theory that synaesthesia is an exhibition of ‘cross-wiring’ in the brain that in fact we all possess, just not in specific regions dealing with perception, and is essentially a demonstration of metaphoric thought from a neurological point of view. Examples of work that can empirically show utilisation of cross-modal metaphor (uses of ‘tone painting’ and work entailing the visual representation of sound) will be compared with what the work may have been presented as if it were produced under a different conceptual metaphor system, i.e. by an artist from a vastly differing culture that structures common sound experiences through different conceptual metaphors; e.g. pitch as thickness in Turkish as opposed to pitch as height in English. The ability for us to make and understand these connections across modalities creatively, independent to language, supports Ramachandran’s and Hubbard’s claims that synaesthesia is an inherent part of normal cognition. In conclusion this paper suggests that sound creativity is inseparable from embodied experience, and that creative output of artists working with sound is fundamentally structured by cognitive metaphor.