Awards special recognition – Jan 2021- Mid article banner

Tate Sensorium, which opens tomorrow, allows visitors to engage with four very different paintings spanning 50 years of British Art in a multisensory way. Inspired by the artworks a range of sound, smell, taste and touch are used to highlight different aspects of each work and explore the way the senses interrelate to influence our overall gallery experience.

Featuring works by a quartet of celebrated figures in 20th century painting, Francis Bacon, David Bomberg, Richard Hamilton and John Latham, the displays will encourage a new approach to interpreting these paintings, using the senses to trigger both memory and imagination.

Key technological components include the use of Binaural and directional audio to produce 3D sounds, a perfume release system to heighten scent and pioneering touchless haptics technology to create the impression of tactile sensations.

The IK Prize, named in memory of the philanthropist Irene Kreitman, celebrates creative talent in the digital industry and is supported by the Porter Foundation with Flying Object selected from a shortlist of four proposals earlier this year. Their Tate Sensorium is a collaboration with a cross-disciplinary team including audio specialist Nick Ryan; master chocolatier Paul A Young; scent expert Odette Toilette; interactive theatre maker Annette Mees; lighting designer Cis O’Boyle; and the Sussex Computer Human Interaction Lab team lead by Dr Marianna Obrist at the Department of Informatics, University of Sussex.

Flying Object said developing Tate Sensorium over the past six months had been a fascinating creative challenge and their goal was 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,” said a FO spokesperson. “We’ve been fortunate to work with really talented people on developing the sensory stimuli, and we’re excited to bring cutting edge technology into the gallery space to help bring the experience to life.”

In addition to the sensory technology, visitors will be given the option to track their response to the display by wearing biometric measurement devices that record the emotional impact of the experience. These wristbands monitor electrodermal activity, a measure of perspiration, which indicates how calm or excited the wearers are. On leaving the experience, each visitor is presented with a tailored summary of how their body reacted to the exhibits and invited to explore the rest of the gallery using the theme of the senses as a guide.

Tate Sensorium runs until 20 September.

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Main Image

(Cacophony of sound)
David Bomberg
In the Hold circa 1913-4
Oil on canvas
support: 1962 x 2311 mm frame: 1995 x 2355 x 63 mm
Presented by the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1967© Tate