Listen to That Painting! An Intercultural Experiment Based on Cross-sensory Coupling

By Emilie Martinez.

Published by The International Journal of New Media, Technology and the Arts

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Article: Electronic $US5.00

While exchanging pictures with people from around the world has become a habit in the age of web-based picture-sharing, verbalizing messages conveyed by visual mediums such as paintings has been a tough task for centuries. This paper presents an intercultural experiment, which associates classical music and soundscapes, as international languages capable of arousing emotions—with two contemporary paintings—in order to facilitate the verbalization of visual messages. The reactions of young adult university students from China and Japan, two countries particularly engaged and involved in the experience of Western classical music, are compared to those of their Western counterparts. Assuming the universality of emotions, the experiment examines the functions of pieces of music and soundscapes. Quantitative and qualitative analyses explore associations and personal memories made when pairing visual and auditory mediums, as well as participant ability to understand metaphorical meaning contained in the paintings. The findings strengthen arguments for the use of cross-sensory coupling in the art and the language classrooms, where intercultural competence and tolerance towards differences could be developed through a verbal exchange based on emotional responses, aroused by wordless mediums.

Keywords: Art Education, Universality of Emotions, Cross-sensory Coupling

The International Journal of New Media, Technology and the Arts, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp.33-47. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 552.303KB).

Emilie Martinez

PhD Student, Teacher of German as a Foreign Language and German Literature, Department of German as a Foreign Language, Friedrich Schiller University, Jena, Thuringia, Germany

I am finishing my PhD thesis at Friedrich Schiller University (FSU) in Jena, Germany. I have a Bachelor degree in English as a foreign language from the University of Toulouse, France and a Master degree in German as a foreign language from FSU, where I have been teaching German as a foreign language, especially German literature, for three years. During my German teaching training at the University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain, I started combining paintings with music in order to achieve a better verbalization of emotions and messages conveyed by paintings, and I made it the topic of my Master thesis, which also deals with art mediation in museums. The main focus of my PhD thesis is the use of the universality of emotions and of the narrative and emotional power of paintings, music and everyday sounds for foreign language acquisition. In the last two years, I got my first opportunities to present some of my teaching concepts at conferences taking place at Brazilian, German and Polish universities.