CFA: Sound Pictures


The British Society of Aesthetics is delighted to sponsor Sound Pictures, a conference bringing together theorists, researchers, and postgraduates from within philosophy to explore the topic of multi-sensory appreciation of the arts. Papers on either genuinely multi-sensory works or about the contribution by different modalities to the appreciation of single-sensory works are welcomed.

Call for Abstracts

Sound Pictures

King’s College London | 20-21 July 2020

Keynote speakers
Mitchell Green (UCONN)
Derek Matravers (OU)

The Theme

Imagine a sculpture made to be heard, or a picture that can be played on a banjo. Although many artworks are multi-sensory in the sense that they invite appreciation by sight, sound, movement and even touch (e.g film and immersive theatre) it might seem odd to say a simple drawing is genuinely multisensory. We don’t expect a drawing to look like the taste of strawberries, just as we don’t expect warm vanilla to taste like triangles.  

This expectation carries over to appreciation. It is natural to think that when your friend remarks on a painting  they will say something about how it looks, rather than how it sounds. But, given that multi-sensory appreciation is held to be ‘the rule and not the exception in perception’ (Shimojo and Shams, 2001) do we ever appreciate a work with a single sensory mode? Does adequate appreciation of (apparently) single sensory artworks (for example, a painting) require input from the other senses? 

In July 2020 we will be hosting a British Society of Aesthetics and King’s Grant Award sponsored conference at King’s College London addressing these and related issues. The event will begin, on the afternoon of the 20th, with a mix of keynote addresses and musical performances in the historic King’s Music Rooms and continue on the 21st with, paper presentations and a panel discussion. We invite papers related to this topic from the perspective of philosophical aesthetics. Both systematic and historical presentations are acceptable.  Topics include, but are not limited to,

  • Are there any genuinely ‘single sensory mode’ artworks?
  • What makes a work ‘multi-sensory’?
  • How might we understand the use of more than one sensory mode when appreciating so-called single sensory works (e.g. instrumental music or drawings).  
  • What might we learn about neurotypical appreciation of artworks from atypical appreciators (such as synesthetes)?
  • Can there be (experienced or actual) resemblances holding between the sensory modes?
  • What is the relation (if any) between sense and affect in our appreciation of artworks?
  • Can there be resemblances between sense and affect, e.g. between yellow and joy, or minor chords and melancholy? 
  • Can there be resemblances between the senses? What might e.g. the taste of strawberries resemble visually?
  • Are artforms and genres determined by standard sensory modes of appreciation? Can new sensory appreciations challenge traditional classifications?

Confirmed Speakers and Musical Performers

Mitchell Green (UCONN)
Derek Matravers (OU)
Jenny Judge (NYU)
Natalie Bowling (Goldsmiths)
Nicola Durvasula (Tate Britain)

About cross-sensory artforms and graphic notations

Several art-forms speak to the question of multisensory confusion, integration and enhancement. For instance, the concept of music is fundamental to Kandinsky’s work. He believed one should ‘see’ his paintings aurally. Likewise, Goethe declared that architecture was “frozen music”. An example pertinent to philosophical reflection is that of graphic notation, where a piece of music is ‘directly depicted’ rather than written down in conventional musical notation. Visual works of art to be appreciated musically were brought to public attention by Earle Brown and John Cage. The experimental movement reached a peak with Cornelius Cardew’s Treatise (1963-1967). More recently Nicola Durvasula (Tate Britain) has been creating visual works specifically for musical realisation. Durvasula will perform her latest ceramic and paper notation as part of the musical presentation on the 20th July. Simultaneously, the paper and ceramic pieces would be on display nearby in London where event attendees will easily be able to visit. We also look forward to performances by Jenny Judge and Jørgen Dyrstad.

Submission Guidelines

We invite submissions for paper presentations on the 21st July. Submissions must be long abstracts (800-1200 words in length) presenting not only the main ideas and claims of the paper, but also the arguments in favour of them. Presentations must be in English. For each talk, there will be time for a 25-30 minute presentation, with about another 15-20 minutes designated for discussion. At least one spot will be filled by a graduate paper. Please note that full paper submissions will not be accepted and submissions are limited to one per person. We ask for:

  1. a cover page (including paper title, author name(s), any affiliations, contact email address, paper submission, and 150 word abstract) and
  2. a separate, anonymous 800-1200 words outline.

All submissions should be sent to

The deadline for submissions is 31 April  2020.

Successful applicants will be informed shortly thereafter.

As signatory to BPA/SWIA Good Practice Scheme, the BSA endeavours to provide an equal opportunity for all. Accordingly, women and other underrepresented groups are especially encouraged to submit. Inclusion, diversity and a gender balance will be considered as a matter of necessity in the final programme.

Travel and Accessibility

The workshop will be held in the Music Room and Small Committee Room at King’s College London Strand Campus, which is served by frequent and straightforward connections in and out of London. To encourage submissions without worry of cost, the workshop will contribute toward graduate delegates’ reasonable UK travel expenses. We will also make any necessary arrangements for those delegates who have special needs including, but not limited to, disability access/parking, dietary restrictions or childcare.

Important Dates

Deadline for submission: 31 April 2020
Notification of acceptance: 15 May 2020                                                                              

Organising Committee

Vanessa Brassey
Jørgen Dyrstad


For any and all enquiries, please contact the organisers at

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