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4 years ago

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Synesthesia:

Synesthesia: Multisensory experiences for a multisensory world Remember when you looked at a painting, listened to music, tasted your food, smelled perfume and touched a (real, physical) object? The rich messiness of the five human senses has always been hard to record in tangible media, but now, thanks to emerging technologies, sensory impressions can be captured, mixed and presented in new ways to enrich and refresh traditional cultural experiences. Emerging technologies hold out the promise of recording and remembering scent as easily as we snap a picture, and the ability to (virtually) touch anything rendered as digital data. And as the technology for capturing and (re)combining sensory experiences becomes more common and more effective, people may become less interested in traditional experiences that appeal primarily to one sense at a time. 16

Above: Janet Cardiff, The Forty Part Motet (2001), Fuentidueña Chapel at The Cloisters Museum and Gardens. Image: The Metropolitan Museum of Art/Wilson Santiago. The demand for multisensory experiences is accelerated by discoveries documenting the utility as well as the artistic challenge and the sheer fun of engaging all the senses. Recent research suggests the best way to remember facts may be to set them to music, while the ancients long ago discovered how to use our innate spatial sense as a memory tool. One reason so much time and effort is being spent on developing scent technology is a growing understanding of the power of smell to stimulate memory, engage emotions, and affect mood and health. Some multisensory experiences are already being used to meet the needs of special audiences, as with the Memories in the Museum project for people with Alzheimer’s, which inspired the Cincinnati Art Museum to take a “holistic approach, incorporating sound and other sensations rather than exclusively visual” to better serve its audiences. But much of the demand for multisensory experiences is driven by pure pleasure. We can wear multisensory fashion, such as designer Iris Van Herpen’s costumes that generate their own “embossed sound.” We can stroll the city enjoying multisensory public art, such as Di Mainstone’s project that wired the Brooklyn Bridge as a giant harp. Multisensory dining 17

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