Emotional Contagion is the phenomenon of feeling what it appears someone else is experiencing. Art abounds with examples of this, where a painting, sculpture or film elicits a sensation in us of what we imagine the character we are viewing is feeling.
Emotional contagion is at work in ‘Marsyas’ by the Salzburg artist Balthasar Permoser (1651–1732).
The story of Marsyas is one of the great parables of hubris in Greek literature. Permoser’s sculpture, with its open mouth and bitten tongue, twisted neck and writhing face, strikingly conveys the satyr’s pain as he is flayed alive. The red flecking of the mottled marble base is reminiscent of spattered blood, a gruesome reminder of mortality.
Apollo also slew Marsyas, the son of Olympus. For Marsyas, having found the pipes which Athena had thrown away because they disfigured her face, engaged in a musical contest with Apollo. They agreed that the victor should work his will on the vanquished, and when the trial took place Apollo turned his lyre upside down in the competition and bade Marsyas do the same. But Marsyas could not, so Apollo was judged the victor and despatched Marsyas by hanging him on a tall pine tree and stripping off his skin. – Apollodorus. 1.4
And on that grusome note…
Good night and good luck.