This last week, on an off-chance news bit heard on public radio, I visited a unique art exhibition at London’s Tate Britain museum — the Tate Sensorium. The basic premise of this exhibit was that the visual experience of art is enhanced by the involvement of the other senses. To design such an experience, 4 of the museum’s collection of permanent paintings are displayed in a darkened room with restricted entry for audience. No more than 4 visitors are allowed in at one time. It was all very intriguing.
Once in, each visitor is fitted with a biometric-measuring wristband whose results are then given to us in the end. You spend 5 minutes with each painting in which while looking at the piece you either walk around sniffing from fragrances emanating from the space around it — everything from a Pine-Sol type smell to some rose patchouli perfume — or put your hand under a mild spray of air while listening to dramatic music on a set of headphones provided or chew on a piece of chocolate stuffed with a grainy mixture sea salt, cocoa beans and what seems like sand but is really edible charcoal.
All these various experiences are expected to evoke physical responses to the visual stimulus thus enhancing the effect of the art on a person by involving the whole rather than a part. Interesting. What really intrigued me was the results indicated my strongest reaction was to a piece that I consciously didn’t find as stimulating as the others. Weird!
On another note, if you haven’t read this book, read it NOW. When they say, “enthralling, endearing, stays with you”, this is it. To think that someone could write this as a debut novel is humbling.
And finally, V is off to his first ever overnight school trip! They’re camping in Oxfordshire where they will be learning survival-type skills amidst the beautiful English country. They’ll be canoeing on open water, swimming in a wild lake, learning to make knots (I think), sleeping in tents, not showering for 4 days, and of course roasting marshmallows ’round a fire. All very fun, I reckon.