Research proposal


Jelena Kalmane

Practice-based Research Project

“Is it possible to experience and interact with an art piece through material, texture, shape, touch, sound or even taste and smell, rather than just its visual appearance”.  

From my early childhood I dedicated my life to art and I realised I wanted to become an artist and to share my passion and love for nature through my practice.  The Foundation Degree in Contemporary Art has taught me how to follow a natural flow of research and idea development, exploring all possible concepts and I have learnt to select materials, techniques and processes, and how to develop a theme, to push and resolve an idea.  But above all, it has helped me to find my individual style and way of working, to go with my interests and instincts. And my main interest is Fine Art. I am a painter, but i think its time to explore something new. Through out my childhood I lived near a forest,  I would go here to walk or to sketch. I always felt such a powerful connection with nature.  So why am I so intrigued by nature and why am I attracted to it? The total  beauty of nature is difficult to capture.  To explore the entirety  of life’s magic is virtually impossible, yet that is what I am planning to do.For my practice based research project, and my self-directed practical project,  it is my intention to explore different media and techniques. I plan to establish how to depict my feelings in to my work but for this I need more time and knowledge.  Also, I am interested to look at the experience and interaction of the piece through material, texture, shape, touch, sound or even taste and smell, rather than just its visual appearance. But Is it possible to experience and interact with an art piece through material, texture, shape, touch, sound or even taste and smell, rather than just its visual appearance?  

Reading around my question I have become interested in the theory about synesthetic art. What is this and how does it fit within the art sphere?

Art through sound

Perhaps the most famous work which evokes synesthesia is the use of the colour organ which would project coloured lights along with the musical notes, to create a synesthetic experience with the audience (Campen 2007, Jewanski & Sidler 2006).   Wassily Kandinsky was the first artist who made changes  in  synesthetic Art.  Many of his paintings and stage pieces were based upon a set and established system of communication between colour and the notes of specific musical instruments. Kandinsky himself, however, stated that this has no “scientific” proof, but were founded upon a combination of his own personal feelings, current prevailing cultural biases, and mysticism (Kandinsky 1994; Dann 1998; Riccò 1999, pp. 138-142 Jewanski & Sidler 2006, Campen 2007).  

In the second half of the nineteenth century, a tradition of musical paintings began to appear that influenced symbolist painters. In the first decades of the twentieth century, a German artist group called The Blue Rider decided to make a scientist experiment.  This experiment involved a composite group of painters, composers, dancers and theatre producers. The main three goals: the unification


of the arts by means of Total Works of Art. Based on synesthesia, Kandinsky wrote a book “On the Spiritual in Art ” (1910), that helped to shape the ground for these experiments.

He said “Colour is the keyboard. The eye is the hammer. The soul is the piano with its many strings.” Its amazing how Kandinsky achieved pure abstraction, how he was listening to his soul, music was showing to him the right direction and he was following to the sound.  Looking at the work of Kandinsky, I have decided to research around Russian artists like him.  Therefore, I plan to research the Russian history of art and how contemporary artists have been inspired by Kandinsky ideas and thoughts.   I am also planning to incorporate research in to Russian landscape artists, such as  insert artist here this will consist of combining landscape with idea of creating art pieces which you can smell, touch of feel.

In my studies, I am planning to research Artists like: Repin, Ivan Aivazovsky, Isaak Levitan, Ivan Shiskin. I fell in love with Russian art after trip to Russia. There i had a chance to visit places like: Hermitage; Winter Palace; museums. I had chance to see and read a lot about Russian paintings but to see everything in a real life its completely different feelings. Those artist followed to their feeling during work on their artworks. I’ve seen this possession, love to nature! you feel like in a wonderland, surrounded with massive artworks which are bigger than you in three times. this realism and pallet of soft colours makes day look more colourful!  I am most influenced Ivan Shiskin and it is my intension to make paintings along this nature.  He made a unique contribution to Russian art in the form of landscape painting that celebrated nature in all its pure, unadorned beauty.  I am inspired by is passion and love of nature, this is my motivation got this work.

Art through touch

Painting is a blind man’s profession. He paints not what he sees, but what he feels. (Pablo Picasso)

Artist Scratch Adelia recently produced a tactile image of the Mona Lisa.  This was a challenging for some as whether an individual perceives art with their eyes or hands is irrelevant.   This was a revelation as it allowed visually impaired people to be able to appreciate for the first time the dilemma of the smile, which he had heard so much about, brought one man to tears.  “As we develop through childhood and adolescence, we gain knowledge via our sense experiences. When one of these senses is compromised, the individual will use his or her other senses to compensate for this”- Adelia perfectly proved that we doesn’t need to see what we want to create, we need to follow our feelings. ( fig

Taste and smell /Texture and shape

I also plan to experiment with taste and smell as a new progression in Art. It was exhibited on Wednesday 26 – Tuesday 20 October 2015 exhibition at Tate Britain in London using some of the latest technology to reawaken our neglected senses now  you can watch a video game in which you can touch the characters, or an email that you can sniff.

“What we are doing is testing out, with the public, a new way of experiencing art, a new way of presenting art,” says Tony Guillan, multimedia producer for Tate Media.


The project has drafted in chocolate maker Paul Young, scent expert Odette Toilette, audio expert Nick Ryan and theatre maker Annette Mees to create the show. The Sussex Computer Human Interaction Lab is involved, as is the company Ultrahaptics which creates the “touch” element.

This is to do with the surface quality of something, the way something feels or looks like it feels. There are two types of texture: actual texture and visual texture.

Actual texture really exists, so you can feel it or touch it. You can create actual texture in an artwork by changing the surface, such as sticking different fabrics onto a canvas. Combining different material techniques can create interesting textures.

Visual texture is created using marks to represent actual texture. It gives the illusion of a texture or surface but if you touched it, it would be smooth. You can create visual texture by using different lines, shapes, colours or tones.

I plan to  combine this three things in a series of asrtworks. First of all, I am thinking to make range of experimental work which will base on my theory about “Is it possible to experience and interact with an art piece through material, texture, shape, touch, sound or even taste and smell, rather than just its visual appearance? ” secondly, looking on my development work, I will try to put all my knowledge together and make one work which will represent all types of feelings.

I plan with this research to conclude that the Art is not only about skills, materials, techniques and processes it is about the way it evokes an emotion.



“Don’t just look-smell, feel and hear Art”(2017)-

“Taste, smell and feel artwork at Tate sensorium” (2017)-

Wassily Kandinsky “Synesthesia”(2017)-

“At the Touch Art Fair, you feel your way “Emily Davison(2013)- Siskin- biography


“Synesthesia in art”

Wassily Kandinsky: Synesthesia & Abstraction”

Wassily Kandinsky Concerning The Spiritual In Art [Translated By Michael T. H. Sadler]-

“Synesthesia in art”-

Russian Artists-

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