International Journal of Art & Design Education

Synaesthesia - Arts Education as Cross-Modal Relationships Rooted in Cognitive Repertoires

Volume 13.2   1994



This paper attempts to broaden the debate about whether the arts are generic or not by analysing their relationship based on several different points of comparison including: symbolic codes, modes, functions and their status as performance/non-performance arts. This approach is combined with Michael Polanyi's ideas about the way perception and understanding are linked through focal and subsidiary integration which offers a rich way of analysing the subtle and holistic way we make and read the arts. Polanyi's notion of focal and subsidiary integration is supported by reference to a social and holistic view of mind which in turn provides the necessary basis for cognitive repertoires, allowing synaesthesia and metaphor to take place. Metaphor and synaesthesia are put forward as the closest the arts get to something like generic features. They act to unify our understanding across modalities, and consequently should be understood as the key for teaching the arts in a relational way.