Wassily Wassilyevich Kandinsky was a unique Russian painter, poet and art theorist. One of the things that made him unique was the fact that he was a synaesthete. He had a condition known as synaesthesia:
Synaesthesia, present in 2-4% of the global population and poetically translated as a “joining of the senses,” is one of the most artistically darling mental conditions. It manifests differently in every synesthete, but generally connotes an unusual activation of multiple senses in response to stimuli. Typical examples are perceiving numbers as different hues, or conflating audio input with particular shapes and colors.
This “joining of the senses” seems to be widely variable showing itself differently in different persons affected by its characteristics (see this Scientific American article):
Synaesthetes report having unusually good memory for things such as phone numbers, security codes and polysyllabic anatomical terminology because digits, letters and syllables take on such a unique panoply of colors. But synaesthetes also report making computational errors because 6 and 8 have the same color and claim to prejudge couples they meet because the colors of their first names clash so hideously.
Also, it should be noted that:
Synaesthesia, a mixing of the senses, is more common in individuals with autism. Here, we review the evidence for the association between synaesthesia and autism…
See the following for a paper with more details on this:
Enough with the serious stuff! The fun aspect of this is the art of Kandinsky and what is now available online. Here is a neat and interesting site for you and your students to explore which delves into a whole bunch of Kandinsky-related stuff and by extension, synaesthesia:
And here is Kandinsky stuff you can do with your students, should you be so inclined:
And finally a poem by Kandinsky:
Blue, Blue rose up, rose up, and fell.
Spiky, Thin whistled and tried to barge its way in, but
didn’t get through.
On every corner there was a din.
Fat Brown got caught, apparently for all eternity.