A selection of Pages from ‘The Autumnal Quarter’

Barbara Ryan

from ‘The Book of Days - A Synaesthesic Calender‘*

‘The Book of Days – a Synaesthesic Calender’ is a record of 365 days of the year set down in the form of a synaesthesic memory diary and presented in magazine type format – tactile, portable and sensually interactive.

Initially inspired by ‘Le Calendrier’ from ‘Les Tres Riches Heures du Duc du Berry’ produced by the Limbourg Brothers in the late 14th / early 15th Century, the ‘Book of of Days’ is a meshing of two distinct styles – the high art of the illuminated manuscript with the contrived glamour of the fashion magazine. The former, set down for all eternity and only available to the rich and privileged, the latter, relatively cheap and intentionally throw away – a poor man’s book of days of continual consumption. The idyllic nature of ‘Le Calendrier’ and it’s representation of the agricultural year clashes and yet is also mirrored by the visual manipulation and fakery of the stylised fashion shoot.

The ‘Calendrier’ is also a refuge, a synaesthesic utopia, as it sets out it’s visual information in a format that can be easily equated with synaesthesic perception, a format that displays a multitude of references. Both the the skewed perspective and the astounding use of colour allow a single image to be percieved as the equivalent of an entire film in modern visual terminology:

‘If I think of a particular day from memory, it consists of a compression of many sensory experiences – both ‘synaesthesic’ and what I assume is the ‘normal visual and olfactory way’. For example, if I look at the pages for the end of August: I experience a filmic sequence of intermeshed stories, scenarios, characters, and their accompanying smells, sounds and meteorological and tactile sensations. Rather than one moment of a particular day, it is a representation of the concept of August in synaesthesic memory; of all Augusts – separate, different, yet cohesive and eternal.’ (1)

The following images are a selection from ‘The Autumnal Quarter’. A time of year when memory perhaps is at it’s most nostalgic, sad and yet idyllic – a time when the clarity of light is fiercely cruel in it’s reminder of the waning of Summer and the turn of the seasons.

* Synaesthesia - otherwise known as 'a crossing of the senses'. The synaesthesic state allows cross referencing of sensory information via neural pathways in the brain which are normally kept separate.

(1) extract from 'Moebius Strip' selected work from 'The Book of Days - A Synaesthesic Calender' Barbara Ryan September 2007.