… Where’s the sense in multisensory art?

Tate-SensoriumIt used to be

known as ‘synaesthesia’; now ‘crossmodal perception’ is the scientific term for the

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ability of one sense to stimulate another. Experiments by Oxford University psychologists and researchers in New York have found links between reactions to sound and smell in


the part
of the brain known as


the ‘olfactory tubercle’. It may sound like a plug of mucus

problem of ADHD-afflicted visitors who’ve lost the ability to focus on

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, while wall dispensers diffused the odours of 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 their creator trades under the name of Odette Toilette.) The sense of touch was tickled in front of the Latham by an ‘Ultrahaptics’ device using ultrasound waves to puff spurts of air, and the sense of taste in front of the Bacon by a ball of chocolate that exploded in the mouth into a gritty mix of edible charcoal, cocoa grains and sea salt, evocative of Bacon’s dingy earth //--> palette but rather more exciting.

As we listened, sniffed,