TSC 2010 Pre-Conference Workshop

Session 3 Tuesday Morning, April 13 (9:00am-1:00pm)          TCC - GILA

Half Day, $75


Why Synesthesia Matters

Sean Day, Patricia Lynne Duffy, Carol Steen, Maureen Seaberg (Moderator)



This workshop is a unique opportunity because not only does it feature four people immersed in the study of synesthesia, they are each synesthetes and welcome your questions about the experience. Why does synesthesia matter? Synesthesia (literally the joining of senses) has implications in the sciences, the Arts and spirituality. For the sciences, synesthesia provides a unique look at consciousness and why we all have such different experiences. The Arts have been the true love of synesthesia throughout the centuries, caressing its spectrums with French Symbolist poetry and building monuments to its mysteries with encoded architecture. Spiritually, synesthesia looms largest in Judaism and Buddhism, with each tradition acknowledging and even celebrating its intrinsic grace.

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Sean A. Day, Ph.D., is an instructor at Trident Technical College, holding a Doctorate in Linguistics and a Master's degree in Anthropology. He is the current President of the American Synesthesia Association and has written several well-received papers on the study of the condition. He also monitors a well-attended web forum on synesthesia, The Synesthesia List, providing the latest information to synesthetes in 47 countries around the globe. He hosts a weekly program on Trident Technical College Internet Radio, titled "A Synesthetic Moment" and has either appeared on or consulted for most of the major news pieces and dramatizations about synesthesia, from 60 Minutes to NPR and the BBC and Fox television. He will address the science of synesthesia.

Patricia Lynne Duffy is the author of Blue Cats and Chartreuse Kittens: How Synesthetes Color their Worlds (Henry Holt & Company 2001), the first book by a synesthete about synesthesia.  Along with the artist, Carol Steen, Duffy is co-founder of the American Synesthesia Association.  She is also an instructor in the United Nations Language and Communications Programme in New York, where she is a member of the UN Society of Writers.   Patricia Duffy's special interest is in what she terms "personal coding", the unique way in which each person codes information and makes a one-of-a-kind "inner map" of the world around them. She has been interviewed about her research and her synesthesia by a number of publications including the New York Times, the Washington Post, Smithsonian Magazine, Discover Magazine, and Newsweek , as well as on tv and radio programs such as National Public Radio , the BBC, Public Radio International and the Discovery Channel.  Last year, she was presented with the Distinguished Alumni Award by her Alma Mater, Teachers College, Columbia University. She will address synesthesia in literature and The Arts.  

Carol Steen is an artist, writer, curator and synesthete. Her work is in numerous public collections including the Library of Congress, the Robert McLaughlin Gallery in Oshawa, Ontario, and the Detroit Institute of Arts. Steen has been the recipient of fellowships from the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, NH, and the New York Foundation for the Arts, among others. She is the author of “Visions Shared: A Firsthand Look into Synesthesia and Art”, published by Leonardo, The MIT Press in 2001; and recently co-curated the first exhibition of works, with exhibition book, of known and 'thought to be' artists with synesthesia at the McMaster Museum of Art in Ontario entitled, “Synesthesia: Art and the Mind”, 2008. Steen has presented at numerous conferences on synesthesia including the University of Edinburgh, 2008; University of California Berkeley, 2004; and the University of Cambridge, 1997; among many others. She has been a co-chair, in 2005, and panelist, 2005 and 2009 at the College Art Association's conferences. She has been in numerous television and radio documentaries including “60 Minutes”, and NPR, and her work has been included in many books, magazines and newspapers including, Smithsonian Magazine, The New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal. Steen is the Co-Founder and a Board Member of the American Synesthesia Association, Inc. She is currently working on a new series of paintings from sound, and organizing the 8th annual national conference of the ASA.


Maureen Seaberg (Moderator) has been a journalist for 20 years, most recently contributing to the New York Times Metro pages. She has been published in The Daily News, Irish America and ESPN the magazine and has appeared several times on MSNBC, CNN and PBS. She is currently at work on an agented book titled, The Synesthesia Project, and has discovered prominent synesthetes from Billy Joel to Itzhak Perlman, gathering their testimonies. She is working closely with Tibet House and gathered Dr. Robert Thurman's unique theory about synesthesia and the Buddhist "mind sense" for both her book and this presentation. She is a graduate of Penn State University and holds a certificate in superior level Spanish language studies from the Universidad Complutense in Madrid. She won a 2009 scholarship to workshop The Synesthesia Project at The Norman Mailer Writers Colony, Provincetown, Mass. Ms. Seaberg will present on synesthesia and spirituality.



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