… Where’s the sense in multisensory art?

Tate-SensoriumIt used to be known as ‘synaesthesia’; now ‘crossmodal

perception’ is the scientific term
for the ability of one sense to stimulate another. Experiments by Oxford University psychologists and researchers in New York have found links between

of
four paintings from the collection – Richard Hamilton’s Interior II, John Latham’s Full Stop, David Bomberg’s In
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the Hold and Francis Bacon’s Figure in a Landscape – with added bells and smells. The experience of

Hamilton’s Interior, for example, was aurally enhanced by the sound of clacking heels on 1960s parquet and distant traffic noise, google_ad_client = "ca-pub-3967079123942817"; while wall dispensers diffused the odours of google_ad_height = 90; furniture polish, hairspray and glue. (Or so we were
told. All the scents in the show smelled to me like stale air-freshener, not surprisingly considering google_ad_client = "ca-pub-3967079123942817"; their creator trades under the name of Odette Toilette.) The sense

of touch was tickled
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in front of the Latham by an ‘Ultrahaptics’ device using ultrasound waves to puff //--> spurts of air, and the sense

which raised my hopes of /* xin2 */ the National Gallery’s summer exhibition Soundscapes for which six composers, sound artists and recordists were commissioned to write soundtracks to paintings of their choice. A problem with sound,
of course, is that to appreciate it you have to keep quiet, which gallery visitors – unlike concert or film audiences – aren’t obliged to do. The google_ad_width = 970; calls of the
raven, google_ad_client = "ca-pub-3967079123942817"; cuckoo and Lapplanders’ ‘yoik’ supplied by David Attenborough’s sound recordist Chris Watson as an undercurrent to Akseli Gallen-Kallela’s Lake Keitele would have been wonderfully atmospheric if not regularly
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drowned in waves of chatter every time the gallery doors were opened.

Not google_ad_height = 90; all the soundtracks were as evocative as Watson’s. The melancholy sawing of Susan Philipsz’s Air on a

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Broken String, played as an accompaniment to Holbein’s
The Ambassadors on a violin with a string missing, was as maunderingly self-indulgent as her 2010 Turner Prize

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entry and – apart from the knowing reference to Holbein’s broken lute string