Prometheus Symphony of Colors

Groundbreaking research and psychedelic visuals by the Kazan-based scientific institute.

The Prometheus design office was founded at the Kazan Aviation Institute in 1962 and took its name from Alexander Scriabin’s symphony. The Russian composer was fascinated by the phenomenon of synesthesia, the merging of two senses, and found almost spiritual meaning in the connection of sound and color. His 1910 piece “Prometheus: The Poem of Fire” features the color organ – a special device, which flooded the concert hall with colorful splashes synchronized with musical shifts. 

Inspired by this example of early avant-garde art, professor Bulat Galeyev, a prominent scholar of synesthesia, the history of light music and abstract cinema, led the Prometheus Institute to become a platform for groundbreaking experiments. The origins of what we today call media art can be found in the research conducted in Kazan. Video artworks and installations, created by Galeyev’s colleagues, could be considered classic science art, and yet their work remains largely unexplored within this context. Nowadays the institute is a unique archive of documents and artifacts, open to art historians and scholars interested in the pioneering endeavours of the Prometheus group.

An archival television documentary, taken from the upcoming exhibition PROMETHEUS. DEMO: Experiment Promises to Become Art, shows us around the institute’s light studio, where complex audio-visual pieces were created and performed. The film also demonstrates several projects, completed by the Kazan scientists: devices, capable of producing psychedelic visuals from the comfort of your own home, awesome experiments in architectural lightning, and unique analogue equipment, designed to engage the human senses and provide dynamic synesthetic experiences.

The exhibition, organized by the Department of Research Arts, together with the Prometheus Institute and NII x Alpbau art space, aims to situate these experiments on the border of science and art. In addition to archival materials, it will feature an extensive educational program, where art scholars, historians and artists can share their experiences of working in contemporary art archives and at Prometheus, in particular.

PROMETHEUS. DEMO: Experiment Promises to Become Art, NII x Alpbau, Moscow. Jan. 27 - Feb. 26.