Kandinsky’s Effect: Reflections on Synesthetic Lesson in Abstraction

By Chutarat Laomanacharoen.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

When Wassily Kandinsky introduced his art composition treatise in the book Point and Line to Plane in 1926, the method of abstraction was perceived as objective and universal resulting in a learned language for art and design believed to be able to communicate universally. However, as pertinent literatures assert that Kandinsky’s art was influenced by his involuntary synesthesia experience, the method can also be viewed as subjective. Therefore, objective teaching and critique of abstraction often raises controversies due to the perceived universal quality.
In this light, a quasi-experimental study, based on a small cross-modal experiment by Wassily Kandinsky, was conducted in order to gain insight understanding in abstraction lesson design. In this study, 30 students were randomly divided into two groups: one with a single-modal method of learning, another with a synesthetic or cross-modal method of learning, based on Kandinsky’s synesthetic paintings. In the single-modal method, students composed 3 dimensional models based on their interpretations of assigned paintings while in the cross-modal method; students immersed themselves into the paintings by creating sound samples from percussion instruments, which were then blindly assigned to other students in the same group to compose three dimensional models that best depict the sound samples. Based on Amabile’s CAT (Consensual Assessment Technique), models from both groups was rated by 5 experts. Findings presented in amalgamations of data revealed notable differences in creativity ratings between the two groups of models.

Keywords: Cross-modality, Abstraction, Wassily Kandinsky, Synesthetic Lesson in Abstraction, Artificial Synesthetic Experience

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 5, Issue 5, pp.327-336. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 909.682KB).

Chutarat Laomanacharoen

Instructor, Department of Interior Architecture, School of Architecture and Design, Assumption University, Bangkok, Thailand

Chutarat Laomanacharoen is an instructor in the Department of Interior Architecture and the chairperson of the Department of Product Design at Montfort del Rosario School of Architecture and Design, Assumption University, Thailand. She has several papers published in national and international magazines and journals in the area of theory, methodology, and criticism in interior architectural design as well as design education.

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