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The Tate Asks, “Can Taste, Touch, Smell, and Sound Change the Way We ‘See’ Art?

Richard Hamilton, 'Interior II' 1964

Richard Hamilton, Interior II 1964. Oil, cellulose paint and collage on board
support: 1219 x 1626 mm frame: 1425 x 1830 x 100 mm Purchased 1967
© The estate of Richard Hamilton View the Museum’s main page for this artwork,
August 19, 2015, by Jack Dziamba. New Post Goes Up Every Wednesday.

This blog covers the use of Technology and the New Media by Art Museums, Galleries, and Book Publishers,  and reviews new approaches in the worlds of Art and Literature. As to this exhibition of Art through the “senses” The Tate believes that:

“Galleries are overwhelmingly visual. But people are not – the brain understands the world by combining what it receives from all five senses. Can taste, touch, smell and sound change the way we ‘see’ art?”

The Tate Sensorium

As described by the Tate website:

” Tate Sensorium is an immersive display featuring four paintings from the Tate collection. You can experience sounds, smells, tastes and physical forms inspired by the artworks, and record and review your physiological responses through sophisticated measurement devices.

The experience encourages a new approach to interpreting artworks, using technology to stimulate the senses, triggering both memory and imagination. On leaving, you will be invited to explore the rest of the gallery using the theme of the senses as a guide.

Nicholas Forrest in BlouinArtInfo writes,

“Featuring works by Francis Bacon, David Bomberg, Richard Hamilton, and John Latham, the display uses the senses to trigger both memory and imagination, establishing a new approach to the interpretation of these paintings. Binaural and directional audio will be used to produce 3D sounds, touchless haptics technology will create the impression of tactile sensations, a perfume release system will emit bespoke “living naturals” scents, and an edible product will stimulate a haptic taste experience.”

Technology and the Senses: How Does It Work?

As described by the Tate,


Touchless haptics work by using focused ultrasound from an array of speakers that vibrate on the visitor’s hand. This will create a sensation of touch, and no gloves or special equipment is needed. Touchless haptics use technology developed by the company Ultrahaptics.


Directional audio uses ultrasound waves to direct very precise sound waves across distances in a very precise manner. Listeners outside of the audio area will not be able to hear it, while for those inside the channel, the effect is similar to listening to headphones. Directional audio systems will be provided by Hypersound.


Flying Object collaborated with International Flavors and Fragrances working with a selection of perfumers to create bespoke fragrances. The fragrances have been created using IFF exclusive raw materials combined with scents of life captured using IFF R&D Nature Inspired Fragrance Technologies™.


Master chocolatier and food inventor Paul A Young has developed an edible product that stimulates a haptic taste experience in response to the textural, painterly qualities and potential meanings of a specific artwork.


Visitors will be given the option to measure their body’s response to the experience using wearable devices. These wristbands measure electrodermal activity, a measure of perspiration, which indicates how calm or excited wearers are. Tate Sensorium will be using E4 wristbands, provided by Empatica, who offer medical quality sensing.”

Can taste, touch, smell and sound change the way we ‘see’ art?”

Will it work? Here is a video by the creators explaining the purpose of the Tate Sensorium. It will be interesting to see the reviews and visitor experiences of Tate Sensorium. Stay tuned.

About Flying Object
“Winner of the IK Prize 2015, Tate Sensorium is the creation of creative agency Flying Object, working with a team of collaborators: audio specialist Nick Ryan, master chocolatier Paul A Young, scent expert Odette Toilette, interactive theatre maker Annette Mees, lighting designer Cis O’Boyle, digital agency Make Us Proud, and the Sussex Computer Human Interaction Lab team lead by Dr Marianna Obrist at the Department of Informatics, University of Sussex.
The IK Prize is awarded annually for an idea that uses innovative technology to enable the public to discover, explore and enjoy British art from the Tate collection in new ways.”



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