cross-modal apparatus



ross mcleod and peter holmes


Synaesthesia is a condition in which one type of stimulation evokes the sensation of another. As in when the hearing of a sound produces the visualisation of a colour. The studio asked students to approach the act of design through an in depth analysis of sensory perception and to explore ways in which the confluence of sensory input can focus and amplify the experience of space. The appreciation of the world from a synaesthetic point of view required the development of perceptual frameworks which ordered the senses in particular ways, so that they could be compared and assimilated simultaneously. The development of these sensorial systems was considered as the essential creative act of the studio and the key to unlocking an original approach to the design of interior spaces. To this end, the studio examined the interplay between sight, sound, smell, touch and taste and sought to focus, amplify and challenge the understanding of the interrelationships within the five senses when considering the shaping of spatial encounters.

The first half of the semester involved an intimate interrogation of the perception of the physical world via the senses. These studies were manifest through the production of a ‘Synaesthetes Compendium’. Compendium is Latin for ‘that which is weighed together’; it is a concise collection of materials, rather than an all-encompassing or comprehensive work. In developing a methodology for the careful comparing and cataloguing of the senses in synaesthetic terms, the students were asked to think of ways in which one sense may be used to describe another. In this process, the system developed for ordering the senses and the method for the collecting the senses had to be intertwined with how the collection was organised and represented. In this way the form of the compendium needed to suggest its content and the content had to shape the form. Ultimately the final piece acted as a contemplation of how the senses can by defined, quantified, qualified, organised, juxtaposed and displayed.


synaesthetes compendium - esther qian ying:


palate - amanda tiong


In conjunction with the compilation of the compendium, the students were asked to design and construct a cross-modal apparatus that amplified the relationship between two or more of the senses. Cross-modal perception involves the interaction between two or more different sensory modalities. The considering of the interaction of the senses in a demonstrable way required the invention of an apparatus that could interface with the eyes, ears, nose, mouth, hands or skin. This device needed to amplify and focus the effects of stimuli upon one individual sense and somehow make the user acutely aware of the interplay and union of that sense to another sense. The design of such an apparatus needed to be expressive and exaggerated, theatrical and dramatic, fantastical and evocative. Once designed and built the apparatus was to be used as the central prop in a cinematic style photo shoot, in which the affects of the device was clearly expressed. The photos aimed to powerfully convey the nature of the union of the senses that the apparatus made possible.

With the knowledge gained from these investigations the students embarked on the design of complex ‘spatial sensory systems’ which were orchestrated to enhance the user’s interaction with space while responding to a particular site and its programmatic conditions. The final project called for the design of a ‘Synatorium’, a public space which engaged the interaction of sensorial stimuli. The brief called for the design for a new kind of interior space which challenged and reconfigured the normative. A type of space in which the rituals of interaction and the sensorial cues that define them were examined, deconstructed and reassembled. The Synatorium was to be thought of as an arena, a ‘place where forces contend or events unfold’. In order to communicate the potentials that lie in the manipulation and juxtaposition of different sensorial input, the final design presentation needed to both engage the senses through the display of experimental and installation design work and intrigue the mind through the depth of thought and detail of the proposed space. The students final design projects included proposals for public art works, museum exhibitions, theatrical performances, event spaces, retail experiences and dining venues.


sound propogation retail emporium - jennifer wijaya


STUDENTS: Sarah Lyons, Tracy Indra Kusuma, Ciara Mc Grath, James Prasser, Monika Niceska, Jasmine Jakupi, Aishah Puteri, Michella Priyatna, Frances Gordon, Esther Qian Ying, Steven Sundjaja, Jennifer Wijaya, Amy Tan, Vivian Chiu Chih-Ying, Amanda Tiong, Vanessa Lim, Brittonae Cunningham, Ruofan Sun, Emily Zhang