Ringling Museum Installation Mimics Artists’ Synesthesia

Pathless Woods is a lively art installation at The Ringling Museum in Florida that combines color, light, and sound to create a very unique experience. Hyperallergic recently featured an article about the piece and how it imitates synesthesia, “a cognitive condition that causes the synesthete to conflate one sense for another, for example to taste colors, or perceive certain letters to light up or have personalities.”

The piece is a large installation that was created specifically for the space at The Ringling, according to Hyperallergic. It consists of around 24 miles of colorful ribbons suspended from the ceiling, video projections created by Adam Larsen, scents by Beau Rhee, and an orchestral piece, “The Garden of Cosmic Speculation,” by Michael Gandolfi. It is art that can be experienced by almost all of the senses at once, which gives visitors a peek into the world of people who experience synesthesia.

The artist, Anne Patterson, is synesthetic. She told Hyperallergic that music makes her see shapes and colors and that she connects numbers to “genders, personalities, and even clothing.” When she is creating art, she often makes use of this.

As she was creating Pathless Woods, Patterson listened to music and responded to it by choosing projected images and colors for the ribbon. Many volunteers from the community helped to install the piece in the museum.

Pathless Woods will be on display at The Ringling until April 26, according to the installation’s page on The Ringling’s website.

Linked in this post:

Hyperallergic Article

The Ringling Pathless Woods Page

Featured image credit: The Ringling

About the Author: Mara Blackwood

Mara Blackwood is the executive editor of RedDotBlog


  1. Interesting. It’s my understanding that each in synesthete experiences things differently. Each will see different colors for instance when hearing the same thing, etc.

  2. Psychedelic…..
    Reminds me of a large geodesic dome housing a waterbed floor and an inside light-show and sounds experience that I used to take my young charges to while babysitting in Berkeley in the early 70’s…..or the floor to ceiling suspended rectangular balloons with internal pulsating colors which one was forced to manipulate while wandering through the “maze” at the friendly local junior college in the 60’s….or perhaps the foam discos in Spain….? Art is sensory stimulation. Have you ever been experienced?

  3. I experience synesthesia all the time and while this beautiful installation doesn’t bring up any definite sensations for me other than tingly skin, it was very calming and exciting at the same time. Some of my usual sensations are: I taste words, and have viewed paintings of rocks that made me physically feel the cold hard surface in my hand. A roomful of people talking in a room gives me visions of water rushing over rocks. It really makes life fun!

  4. I was there and wouldn’t go in because it was a busy day and there were people hacking and coughing walking through. I didn’t want any contact infection.
    Looked like fun, though….

  5. Christopher-your thoughts mirror mine. My training in infection control kept popping up during the video. I probably wouldn’t be able to participate. However I love the idea of attempting to get people to experience this phenomenon.

    Thanks , Jason for informing us.

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