anne patterson blurs the five senses in pathless woods installation

anne patterson blurs the five senses in pathless woods installation

artist anne patterson has synesthesia, meaning that her sensory perceptions overlap; when she hears sound, she sees color. trained as an architect and theater production designer, this unique combination of senses has led to an artistic practice hovering somewhere between the theatrical and experiential. she continues to explore synesthetic environments with ‘pathless woods’, a colorful installation that began with her acclaimed 2013 project ‘graced with light’ at grace cathedral in san francisco.

anne patterson pathless woods installation designboom
pathless woods is an interactive and colorful installation that reflects a synesthetic experience of the artist
(above and main) image © peter acker

one of patterson’s influences for the pathless woods installation is composer michael gandolfi’s ‘garden of cosmic speculation’. while listening to the music, she visualizes lines of blue and green surrounding a red center — an image created with satin ribbons. therefore, when walking through patterson’s ‘pathless woods’, visitors are immersed in an unusual sensory experience — forcing them to leave reality and enter another one. in this new world, senses are encouraged to overlap — exaclty like the artist’s synesthetic condition.

anne patterson pathless woods installation designboom
the sense of touch is maximized by the satin texture of the colorful ribbons
image © adam larsen

wanting to enhance the senses of sight, sound, and touch as one walked through pathless woods, patterson has collaborated with projection designer adam larsen and scent artist beau rhee. on one hand, videos of swaying branches, falling rain, and rushing water are projected upon the dense mass of hanging ribbons. on the other, a light fragrance of pine and fir fills up the space to remind visitors of the forest scent after rainfall. all in all, this interactive installation successfully affects all five senses; there is the touch of the ribbon on one’s skin, the sight of flickering light and projected imagery, the sound of classical music, and clean scent of a forest.

anne patterson pathless woods installation designboom
the installation is a direct visualization of the artist’s synesthetic experience when listening to music
image © peter acker

patterson’s assistant kina park was integral in devising a way to involve over 75 museum volunteers to build the work by cutting and organizing ribbons, then attaching them to 120 ropes. these were then hung diagonally across the ceiling of the gallery  — letting ribbons cascade all the way down.

anne patterson pathless woods installation designboom
ribbons are attached to 120 ropes which are then hung diagonally across the ceiling
image © peter acker



designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.


edited by: lea zeitoun | designboom

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