Tate lets you hear, taste, touch and smell artworks

Tate is working with sensory art specialists in an initiative to bring artworks in its collection to life.

David Bomberg, In the Hold (c.1913–4). © Tate
David Bomberg, In the Hold (c.1913–4). © Tate

Tate Britain is set to install an exhibition that will let visitors interact with artworks using all their senses.

The Tate Sensorium project will let you hear, taste, touch and smell pieces by Francis Bacon, Richard Hamilton, David Bomberg and John Latham.

The Tate Sensorium has been created by studio Flying Object, which says it “seeks to connect cultural organisations and brands to audiences in new and original ways”.

A sound artist, a scent expert and a chocolatier

To develop the project, the consultancy has worked with audio specialist Nick Ryan; master chocolatier Paul A Young; scent expert Odette Toilette; interactive theatre maker Annette Mees; and the Sussex Computer Human Interaction Lab team led by Dr Marianna Obrist at the Department of Informatics, University of Sussex.

For the installation, all the contributors have created sensory experiences based on elements of the four paintings.

The installation will use binaural and directional audio to project “3D” sounds; a perfume release system to heighten scents and touchless haptic technologies – which focus ultrasound from an array of speakers to vibrate on a visitor’s hand – to create the sensation of touch.

Visitors can measure their “emotional response”

Visitors will also be able to track their “emotional response” to the display, by wearing miometric measurement devices.

These wristbands will monitor electrodermal activity – a measurement of perspiration which will show how calm or excited the visitors are.

Tate says: “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 experience art?”

“Connect to the art in memorable ways”

Flying Object says: “Our goal is to create an experience that provokes, rather than presents, interpretation of the art; we want visitors to enjoy the experience but more importantly to connect with the art in personal, memorable ways.”

The Tate Sensorium is the winning project in the IK Prize 2015 – an annual initiative which looks for innovative technology that lets people explore the Tate’s collection in a new way.

Last year’s winning project was an initiative by studio The Workers, which saw a set of robots released into Tate Britain overnight and controlled by viewers from around the world.

Discover more:

Robots released into Tate Britain at night

• Tate Modern visitors can have their own artworks displayed

• Tate reviews visual identity

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