“Augenmusik”, or synaesthesia as a technique in the early avant-garde Cover Image

“Augenmusik”, or synaesthesia as a technique in the early avant-garde
“Augenmusik”, or synaesthesia as a technique in the early avant-garde

Author(s): Světlana Ondroušková
Subject(s): Studies of Literature
Published by: Ústav svetovej literatúry, Slovenská akadémia vied
Keywords: Augenmusik; Avant-garde; Synaesthesia; Visuality; Affect; Cognition; Hermann Bahr

Summary/Abstract: The article draws attention to a study entitled Expressionismus (1916) written by an Austrian author and literary critic Hermann Bahr. The main objective is to present and analyse its crucial concept of Augenmusik which Bahr suggests in connection to novel techniques of the young generation of avant-garde authors. As a substantial part of Bahr’s text is dedicated to vision and eye, the prevalence of the visual domain is dealt with first; further explored is why Bahr regards expressionist works as unprecedented with an obvious intention to foreground their situatedness outside of historical time; the final part considers the syneasthetic aspect of Augenmusik. Inspiration by synaesthesia, the blending of senses, and its application in art reach far beyond the avant-garde, it was well-known already in ancient Greece where poems were believed to be transferred in the sweet sound of singing Muses. However, it was only in the late 19th century with the advancements in the field of medicine and psychology when synaesthesia came into focus of artists in relation to perception and cognition. Thus synaesthesia in theoretical writings of avant-garde authors demonstrates itself on several levels: neurological, textual (metaphoric), and medial. The article summons arguments in favour of the idea that the main reason why the avant-garde authors started to contemplate synaesthesia was their yearning for an authentic experience, which in the context of this article might be translated as experiencing internally through affects and instincts.

  • Issue Year: VII/2015
  • Issue No: 4
  • Page Range: 13-25
  • Page Count: 13
  • Language: English