Call out for your Open Senses 2017 memories

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So, so, SO much happened over just one weekend! To squeeze it all in, there were multiple events, workshops, talks and conversations all happening at the same time in venues across London. We tried our best to capture as much as we could but we couldn’t possibly get it all!

Therefore, we’re inviting you to share your snapshots, experiences, videos, and 3 word summaries with us.

Please post in the comments below or post on facebook and twitter using #OpenSenses2017 or #OpenSensesUK or let us know if you would like to email, and we can collect all your memories together and create an online scrap book together here on the blog. So much better shared than stuck in your phone we think.

Many thanks!

@OpenSensesUK #OpenSenses2017, Invitation by Natasha Blok.

So, it happened!

it was really fun

Phew! So, it happened! You… us… together we made it happen! It’s been a week since the explosion of colour, sound, talks, tactile experiences, workshops, conversations and sensory activities of the Open Senses Festival began.

Even though the weekend is over, there continue to be ways for you to get involved including:

- visiting Marcus Innis’ exhibition which will continue for 3 months read more including an interview with him here

- following up those conversations you started

- making collaborations happen

- discovering where to find your newly discovered artist or scientist’s public event

- keeping in touch with us and giving your feedback to make next time even more awesome!

Over the next few weeks we will be recapping on some of what was experienced, getting some insights from those involved: both leading and participating, and thinking of what the future may hold…

For now, along with the video, here are some thoughts from Stephanie Singer, the mastermind of it all, when it closed last Sunday.

“So … Open Senses JUST HAPPENED. I’m exhausted… maybe a little delirious … But so happy.

Open Senses was a feat of over 300 people (maybe more?!?!), uniting in London to pull off something that was seemingly impossible but actually JUST HAPPENED. I’m so proud of what we made together. Thank you so much to everyone who created work, worked their asses off against all odds, kept on working even when the festival seemed like… a crazy idea, gave dedication, time, energy, passion and LOVE to it. It was beautiful and I’m going to sleep.

#OpenSenses2017 #OpenSensesUK

Join and help 'Bring London To Its Senses', share your photos and comments through @OpenSensesUK #OpenSenses2017, continuation by Natasha Blok.

3, 2, 1 and Blast Off!!

experience and enjoy

Thanks to all those who gave up their time for a quick chat, now it’s time to get out there to experience and enjoy!

Most of the on-the-go coverage will be through facebook and twitter – so keep your eyes, ears, fingers, breath on there (but only a little – we do want you to enjoy it fully too!). Please do join in with your own photos and comments. We love to hear from you.

Then we’ll cover it on here and get some comments after it’s all done in a flash of furious activity (with some meditative bits thrown in to balance us)!

Let’s see how we come out the other side: shaken, reawakened, joyful and invigorated we hope!

Join and help 'Bring London To Its Senses', share your photos and comments through @OpenSensesUK #OpenSenses2017, excited launch announcement by Natasha Blok.

 

Interview with Dr Christina Bradstreet: Relaxing with Paintings at the National Gallery

relaxing, nourishing, emotional

Hi, can you please tell us a bit about you and the National Gallery’s involvement with the senses?

My name is Dr Christina Bradstreet and I work at The National Gallery organising adult learning courses and events. ‘Relax with Paintings’ are held regularly at the gallery. It’s a concept that has been designed and led by the Gallery's Head of Adult Learning, Jo Rhymer. It’s a format that has evolved out of a series called ‘Looking without Talking’, involving sustained silent looking, alone, in front of a painting, in a closed off room.

What first got you interested in how the senses can be used in art?

I wrote my art history PhD thesis on the role of scent in Victorian painting and I now have a book manuscript on this subject. I'm fascinated by how the nuances of meaning around the sense of smell change over time. Some of these meanings are lost to us today, but if we can reconnect with these meanings we can understand the paintings as they would have been originally.

Since working on ‘Relax with Paintings’ I have become interested in how imagining the senses within paintings can help people to immerse themselves deeply within the painting. Our special ‘Open Senses: Relax with Paintings’ event brings together both of these interests.

What can visitors expect with ‘Relax with Paintings’?

‘Relax with Paintings’ involves being seated in front of a painting for a slow-guided looking. Participants are invited to inhabit the world depicted and breathe its air and are gently guided in imagining the sensory experience of that space, from its sounds to its smells. For our Special ‘Open Senses: Relax with Painting’ I thought that it would be interesting to introduce soundscapes and a scent to explore whether these enhance or change people’s experience of looking at the painting.

All sorts of revelations occur in these sessions. People often find themselves powerfully affected emotionally and typically discover things they have never noticed before, even if they already know the painting well.

How would you describe ‘Relax with Paintings’ in three words?

Relaxing, nourishing, emotional!

I hear the special Open Senses version of Relax with Paintings has now sold out, how else can visitors keen to experience it get involved?

 Although the special ‘Open Senses: Relax with Paintings’ has sold out, there is a free taster from 2-3pm on Thursday 13th July. Please come and experience the sensory wonder of National gallery paintings then.

What else are you looking forward to seeing at the festival?

I'm looking forward to the hearing Professor David Howes of the University of Concordia speak at the Symposium conference. He has been a great source of inspiration to me!

How would you like to see senses evolve within a gallery setting?

We hope to make the skills that participants learn in ‘Relax with Paintings’ accessible beyond the walls of the gallery, so that even those who cannot get to art galleries, let alone The National Gallery, can learn to immerse themselves in pictures.

On a personal level I am starting to find ways to bring my own research into smell in nineteenth-century painting into experiential learning sessions, drawing on art and mindfulness techniques.

Sounds intriguing!

What about three words to describe how you feel about the festival?

Joyful, exuberant, stimulating!

Start your own conversation @OpenSensesUK #OpenSenses2017, this conversation initiated by Natasha Blok.

Hack the Senses - Dr Wellentine’s Emporium of Sensory Curiosities

bamboozling topsy turvy

Here’s a sensory snippet from the team that will be bringing you “The Institute For Sensory Reconnection” from their last bamboozling topsy turvy extravaganza Dr Wellentine's Emporium of Sensory Curiosities...

The delightful thing about sensory events is that you never know where they will take you. In this particular case it started with entering a rather nondescript house to be gathered alongside a hoard of mystified strangers and greeted by an exotic lady in a top hat and fetching jacket, then set lose like hounds on the hunt. Appropriate really as midway I found myself blindfolded with headphones on, bum in the air, nose to the ground much like a bloodhound on the scent track to gain my freedom out of there. This house of oddities featured: sniff-able paintings, a cacophony of orchestral music created from your movements and Microsoft Paint taken up a whole new level – into outer space! At one point I felt I had literally fallen out of the spaceship and was falling into the multi-coloured ether. All this and more within a compact 90 minute period, returning into a breezy bright London afternoon head buzzing with vivid possibilities.

If you want a piece of that then check their latest puzzle here.

Share your experiences @OpenSensesUK #OpenSenses2017, this experience shared by Natasha Blok.

Interview with Hack the Senses: Sensory Game Changers

fun, challenging, unexpected

Hi, so who are Hack the Senses?

We are Hack the Senses, a Wellcome Trust-supported, multi-disciplinary team spanning fields from art history to computational neuroscience, electrical engineering and prosthetics design. Our work explores the science of the senses to deepen appreciation of the richness of perception, to probe its boundaries and to go beyond them.

Wow sounds very sci-fi. How did it all come to be?

Hack the Senses started in early 2016. It grew out of Imre Bard’s work on ethical and societal issues around human enhancement technologies and sprung from a dissatisfaction with the preoccupation with performance enhancement. The project set out to think about ways in which new technologies could expand the scope of human experience.

Cool and how are you using that with the Open Senses Festival?

We have created a game called ‘Institute for Sensory Reconnection’ for small groups of 2-4 players where visitors will have to solve a series of sensory puzzles and challenges. A little bit like an escape-game, but not quite.

And how would you describe it in three words?

Fun, challenging, unexpected.

Why did you choose the senses as a topic to focus on?

Well, we get to know the world through our senses, they are our only source of knowledge, so developing and refining our use of them can lead to a richer, fuller experience. Also, what could be more exciting than trying to stretch the boundaries of what we can perceive and know?

Indeed! And why should visitors come and visit your game?

Visitors will have an opportunity to explore their senses in a playful way, while learning about the fascinating science of how we perceive the world.

What else are you looking forward to seeing at the festival?

We would love to see everything at the festival, but because our event runs throughout the whole duration, we will have to miss out on the rest of programme. :(

Any words for the future of where the interest in senses will go?

Hack the Senses will be the next big thing ;)

We’ll mark your words! And three words to describe how you feel about the festival?

Excited, grateful, curious

Start your own conversation @OpenSensesUK #OpenSenses2017, this conversation initiated by Natasha Blok.

Interview with Tim Murray-Browne: Movement Alphabet to Z…

Photo credit: Tom Medwell. http://timmb.com / @timmurraybrowne

Photo credit: Tom Medwell.

http://timmb.com / @timmurraybrowne

personal algorithmic physicality

Hi Tim, having spoken to Jan can you please introduce yourself and your perspective on Movement Alphabet?

I am an artist working with code, visuals and sound to create interactive experiences. I co-created Movement Alphabet with Jan Lee. We created the work in response to a feeling of disembodiment within digital technology. We’re using interactive technology but within a one-on-one human experience. We analyse how the participant moves when they talk about their physical life and visualise it to create a ‘Movement Portrait’, an algorithmically generated representations of someone’s physicality.

Sounds intriguing! How did you get into sensory circles - what's the story there?

I studied Maths and Computer Science undergrad and then began a PhD on creating music algorithmically at Queen Mary University of London. I was quickly drawn into research into new forms of creating music - both for musicians and in more participatory formats. Right from the outset I was drawn into creating music through movement, which then led onto other kinds of interactive experiences connecting movement, sound, image and light.

What can people look forward to with Movement Alphabet at the festival this weekend?

Movement Alphabet is a one-on-one immersive experience between you, the participant, and a guide. You’re led on a journey of story and physical awareness (sometimes blindfolded) into our interaction pod, a warm translucent structure safe from outside eyes and ears. Inside, you’re invited to share stories, memories and dreams, all things that connect your physical body with your life and who you are today. After you’re led outside, we’ll give you your printed Movement Portrait visualising how your body moved during these experience.

How would you describe it in three words?

Personal, algorithmic, physicality.

Why do you think the senses are important?

I think more and more we’re living in the cerebral world, where we communicate in text and transfer information between our brain and machines in a symbolic and intentional manner. But so much of social connections and experiencing life happens through the body which is present to us through our senses. I think it’s important to retain this connection in how we think.

I hear you’re sold out, what else can visitors do to experience it?

You are correct, we’re sold out at this stage, but visitors are still welcome to come and see the whole process from the exterior. You can see the shadows of people moving while seeing their portraits as it’s rendered on the monitor.

What else are you looking forward to seeing at the festival?

One of the sad things about performing all weekend is that I won’t get to see anything else! But we’re going to the Symposium tomorrow (Friday) and I’m particularly looking forward to hearing Iain McGilchrist talk about his book “The Divided Brain” which has been very influential for me the past two years. If I was free at the weekend, I’d definitely see Firnocene, i=u, and many more.

Where would you like to see the sensory area going in the future?

I really want to see Virtual Reality evolve to include the whole body. I’m sure it will, but as we’ve seen with mobile phones, while the technology is continually getting more advanced, people are also continually shaping their minds and bodies around the technology. I hope immersive technologies like VR start to work with all the senses (particularly physical) before we become too used to doing everything in a purely audio-visual world.

 How would you like your craft develop in the future?

We have many ideas but all top secret for the moment...

Oooh! Exciting! And three words to describe how you feel about the festival?

excited, working hard

Anything else you’d like to mention not yet covered?

Yes, although we’re sold out, please do have a look at movementalphabet.com to find out more about our project, including a gallery of all of our portraits. And join our newsletter to hear about the next show!

Great, thank you both for your time.

As we approach the weekend, many tickets are selling out so don’t delay, have a read and choose your activity to avoid disappointment as many events need pre-booking prior to the weekend. Friday’s Symposium is a great way to get started and see many familiar faces from the blog. We’re all friendly, so come and say hi and be curious.

Start your own conversation @OpenSensesUK #OpenSenses2017, this conversation initiated by Natasha Blok.

Interview with Jan Lee: Movement Alphabet from A…

http://janlee.org / @janleeuk

http://janlee.org / @janleeuk

calligraphy, ancient, futures

Hi Jan, please can you introduce yourself and your background?

I’m a movement artist and performer. I also studied Sociology. I feed these together to look at how different cultures codify our physicality and shape how we see ourselves. Working with Tim Murray-Browne, a creative coder, we’re interested in the physicality of our moving body: the calligraphy of our gestures, habits and preferences. We were inspired by the desire we have as humans to make permanent marks on the world around us and the urge to live on through this symbol of ourselves. This is present in the remnants of cave drawings as well as in our newest technology.

How did you get into it all?

I receive a lot of information from body language, intonations of the voice, the touch of a human hand, seeing the softness or tension of the face. As a dancer, musician and living with bilingual parents, I’ve grown up sensitive to listening to the multiple layers of senses as knowledge, information, wisdom.

What do you think people can look forward to with Movement Alphabet?

A space for you to immerse into your imagination, sift through the vivid colours, sensations, impulses of your memories, finding out how this source of creativity can generate a portrait unique to yourself.

How would you describe it in three words?

Calligraphy, ancient, futures.

Why do you think the senses are so important?

They give us freedom to interact with the things beyond our skin.

They allow subjectivity and objectivity to live alongside each other.

They allow autonomy for the individual.

A tool to make social rituals that bind us together.

They give us more ways to ‘think’, to be democratic in our perspectives, not just favour one over the other. 

Three words to describe how you feel about the festival?

Regenerations. Reconnections. Revelations.

Start your own conversation @OpenSensesUK #OpenSenses2017, this conversation initiated by Natasha Blok.

Video Interview (Kate Dangerfield/BFI) with Amy Neilson Smith: Tying it All Together at the Symposium

Produced /directed by Kate Dangerfield – PhD Documentary. Funded by BFI and in association with Sense.  

poetic structure in film

The video interview recorded above gives further detail behind those interviews given by Kara Jarrold (from Sense), Kate Dangerfield and Amy Neilson Smith previously (click on their names to be taken to the interviews to learn more).

As the festival fast approaches, one of the first events is this afternoon. The metaphorical wizards from Joseph Clarke School (aka Amy Neilson Smith’s students) are over the moon to be part of Open Senses Festival where they will showcase their recorded and improvised work at their school from 2-3pm today (Thursday 18th May). Please contact Amy on amyneilsonsmith@hotmail.co.uk for last minute details if you would like to attend.

Amy promises “not only will your hearts and ears be filled with tales of light and darkness, woes and celebration, isolation and togetherness – but students will be taking the lead and inviting the audience into a mouth watering experience of colour! The textures and smells of chocolate, strawberries, olives, tomatoes and popping candy becoming the live ‘creative process!’”

One star student is completely on board by saying “we don’t have to see the colour we can eat the colour!” Synaesthetic talk in action!

The collated sensorial poetry anthology ‘A Blind Bit of Difference’, is being released soon. It is made up of an explosion of synaesthetic action filled poems. Here’s one sensory poem from it to whet your appetite…

The Braille Machine of Doom!

The brailler is the sorrow of my existence,

a knife scratching deep within my heart.

That mess of metal is a total disgrace,

since the very first day I used it!

Boredom drips off it

like the black filth of oil,

it titters, tormenting, crushing

and torturing me!

The BrailleNote is a cleaner land

than the one before...

The soundless keys pad out

our thoughts in the simplicity of silence...

But still not as perfect as the words straight

from our mouths.

In the video it also details Amy’s work at Sense’s day service Touch Base South East. There she explored sensorial spoken word and guided metaphorical play, one-to-one, with three students with various sensory impairments, additional learning and other associated disabilities.

In collaboration with Sense and the students, Kate Dangerfield designed an innovative ‘accessible film’ project where students take hold of the low-budget film equipment themselves. This way it enables them to show us their unique perspective of the world and their connection to the sensory landscape.

If you would like to hear more of this fascinating work, Kate will discuss it at the Symposium on Friday (tomorrow!) along with multiples showings, at The Trampery on Saturday and Sunday (1.30 – 3.00pm) and at the V&A Museum from 10am – 5.30pm.

Amy will be collaborating with Kate on a full length documentary film: editing and developing the final section using poetic structure within the framework of the film’s aesthetic and audio-visual properties. It will excitingly combine the visual viewpoint from the student with added expression through storytelling and sensory spoken word. 

Amy will also be leading her own live taste-based poetry seminar “An Alternative Logic – tasting a new perspective” at the Symposium on Friday (tomorrow – get your tickets now, limited numbers left), hosted by The Institute of Philosophy.

Amy says you can expect “moulding metaphors into poetic scribblings and using your tongue to taste a new perspective”.

What if you don’t consider yourself a poet? Never fear, we are reassured by Amy that “sensorial stimulation is the key to unlocking your ‘inner poet’. You’ll walk away with a living breathing sensorial creation of your very own, and become part of a larger body of work!”

Come and engage with Amy, Kate and Kara and all the others featured in the interview series at the festival this weekend. It’s so close we can taste it!

Start your own conversation @OpenSensesUK #OpenSenses2017, this conversation initiated by Natasha Blok.

Interview with Elephants and Volcanoes: Who Wouldn’t Love Them?

reflections, living sculpture, water

Who are Elephants and Volcanoes?

We are Elephants and Volcanoes, a multi-disciplinary artist collective. We are 6 friends from different countries and disciplines loving to make art inspired by one another. We love elephants because they are very powerful but also very empathic, and volcanoes: who doesn’t love them!

What’s the story of how you got involved in the senses?

It came naturally as our disciplines focus on different senses, so when we started working together we realized that a conversation between all these sensorial layers started to happen. It is important to us, because nowadays there is a loss in focus and we want to allow people to be fully present when experiencing our work, bringing back awareness and consciousness.

What can people look forward to with ‘Firnocene’ your exhibition at the festival?

It is a short (around ten minutes) otherworldly one on one experience of sound, smell, taste, touch and vision celebrating water as a unique element connecting and nurturing all life as we know it.

How would you describe it in three words?

Reflections/ Living Sculpture/ Water

I’ll allow that. Why do you think the senses are important?

The senses allow us to communicate that which cannot be said or seen, to create a new poetic space.

And why would you encourage visitors to book onto your experience?

To satisfy their curiosity without getting an answer, to feel and experience something new.

What else are you looking forward to seeing at the festival?

Crossmodalist Cabaret, Hack the Senses and Movement Alphabet.

For others curious about the Movement Alphabet, we have a current offer where you receive a discount for them when you buy a place on Firnocene.

Where would you like to see the sensory area develop in the future?

To become more integrated in daily life.

Where will Elephants and Volcanoes be travelling to next?

We are planning to tour the installation in Berlin, Zürich and Amsterdam. We are working on a series of other projects amongst which a multi media one for children.

Three words to describe how you feel about the festival?

Total Extravaganza Shabang

Start your own conversation @OpenSensesUK #OpenSenses2017, this conversation initiated by Natasha Blok.

Interview with Adam Thomason: Food in Sensory Art and Performance

stretch your limits

Hi Adam, please introduce yourself and your involvement with Open Senses?

I’m Adam, I’m a chef who works with Eileih Muir (who is both my partner, and one of the choreographers) at BitterSuite.

BitterSuite was started to make classical music accessible. Now it has developed so that every area matters – including taste which is where I come in! It’s not the main focus however, it’s just part of the whole experience – but a much appreciated one!

I create ideas. I take the feelings, emotions and sound that Steph gives me and see how taste can enhance that part of the music to accentuate the experience as a whole.

Flavour&Some is our company. We won’t be performing in Open Senses this time around, but you can come and experience all the flavours of BitterSuite through the festival.

What can we look forward to with Flavour&Some in the future?

It was a concept where we took to move the food element up to be a larger part, with a lot more choreography (Eileih’s passion).

The idea is that you can have a night out with a meal followed by theatre, which are separate events. We have created a night out where the drink, food and dance/movement/music performance are uniquely combined. It’s a completely different concept that relies heavily on the visual spectacle unlike the blindfolded ‘in your head’ world that BitterSuite evokes.

How did you get into the sensory stratosphere from being a chef?

Eileih first met Steph and helped from the start with BitterSuite. When asked to bring in the food element, with my background as a chef for half my life, I jumped at the chance! It wasn’t even a question if I wanted to do it!

It is a real chef’s dream to create something completely new and be encouraged to push the boundaries of taste and flavour. Spraying scents, changing lights to season the dish, and now creating sometimes unpleasant food to match an uncomfortable piece of music – something you would never do in a commercial kitchen! A great fun challenge: taking a person to another imaginary world through taste and flavour.

What can people look forward to with your tastes at the festival?

Ah, that would be telling, come and experience it for yourself!

How would you describe it in three words?

Stretch your limits.

In particular why do you think the senses are important?

When you highlight all the senses you have a better all-round experience. You can mess around with them and see how they interact with one another. It’s enjoyable to experiment and see what result you get. It’s fun. It makes you think. Be inquisitive and consider what you experience and importantly why you think so.

What else are you looking forward to seeing at the festival?

 Sarah McCartney's smells at the BitterSuite concert! Smell is such a huge part of my job and I feel I know nothing when I talk to Sarah. A whole new world of incredible thought process I never dreamt of is revealed when I speak with her.

How would you like your work to develop in the future?

I’d like a playground to be imaginative in and grow and expand the ideas with no limits. I would love to take the industry further. Make immersive dining a real thing, not a fad. See how music can season food. I want to create a space where every meal is 'Wow'!

Looking forward to it! And three words to describe how you feel about the festival?

 I can’t wait!

Start your own conversation @OpenSensesUK #OpenSenses2017, this conversation initiated by Natasha Blok.

Interview with Kate Dangerfield: Accessible Filmmaker

experimental visceral communication

Hi Kate, please introduce yourself and your background?

Hi, in collaboration with Sense, I have been working on the Accessible Film Project, which forms the basis of my practice-based PhD on Accessible Filmmaking at the University of Roehampton. We have been holding workshops at Sense Resource Centres across the country where people with sensory impairments and other complex needs have been exploring and experimenting with film as a means of communication and expression. We were extremely fortunate to receive funding from the BFI Diversity Fund, which has really brought the project to life.

What are you working on for the festival this year?

I will be discussing the Accessible Film Project at the Symposium on Friday at 5.25pm to introduce our film.

Our film will then be shown at the Trampery from 1.30 – 3.00pm and at the Victoria and Albert Museum from 10 – 5.30pm on Saturday and Sunday.

It is a 20-minute taster of the project, which showcases the amazing work created by the participants during the workshops and shows an overview of the research so far. Marcus Innis and I have also been working together on a short experimental film that will be shown alongside his fantastic photography exhibition on Usher Syndrome at Moorfields Eye Hospital on Saturday.

Plenty then! How did you first get interested in the senses?

I have always been interested by the senses and the work I have done in the past has touched on it in different ways, but it was really when I started my research that I became fascinated by the subject. What interests me most at the moment, is how we communicate though all our senses and how this can be expressed and translated through film. With the current political and social climate, I feel it is ever more important to promote the arts and creative expression. By collaborating with people from different fields and from different countries and communities, we can create really exciting inclusive work. Work which focuses on human connections and challenges our common perceptions of the senses.

What three words would you use to describe The Accessible Film Project?

Experimental (and) Visceral Communication.

Sort of three words... What do you think of the festival line-up?

I am completely blown away by all the events of the festival. Sometimes you find one-off events dotted around here and there, but not like this, it's all happening this weekend in London and there's such a buzz about it. It's very inspiring!!!  It feels like Open Senses is the start of something very special!

What else are you looking forward to seeing other than your work?

We'll see a little bit of everything because Samuel Thomson, Judith Rifeser and myself, along with a crew of students from the University of Roehampton will be running around London filming snippets of excitement for a short film to showcase everyone’s fabulous work. We're also inviting audience members to contribute to the film by sending us very short clips of their experience, so do get involved!

Three words to describe how you feel about the festival?

Wonderfully intriguing & exciting!

Start your own conversation @OpenSensesUK #OpenSenses2017, this conversation initiated by Natasha Blok.

 

Interview with Dr Clare Jonas: Playful Academic Synaesthete

joyful science craftiness

Hi Clare, please tell us a bit about yourself?

Hi I’m a synaesthesia researcher who’s also a synaesthete. The coolest bit of my synaesthesia is that music makes shapes and textures appear for me. The synaesthesia I talk about is music-shape and music-texture, but there are many other different kinds out there.

I am a lecturer in the School of Psychology for the University of East London where I explore multisensory perception (including synaesthesia) and metaphorical and embodied cognition. I am also an advisor and creative consultant for BitterSuite and the Open Senses festival.

Cool and how did you get into researching it?

I’ve been working on research about synaesthesia and multisensory perception since 2007, when I started my PhD in psychology. Synaesthesia is obviously personally important to me as a synaesthete, but it’s also really fascinating for me to find out how other people experience the world.

What can people look forward to with your activity at the festival?

I’m leading Seeing Sound, Tasting Thought. Synaesthesia and The Brain’ at the Trampery (Open Senses Hub) on Saturday afternoon.

You’ll get a mix of discussions about the science behind synaesthesia and the senses and some activities that are designed to help you understand what the world is like for synaesthetes. We’re going to sculpt emotions in plasticine!

I’ll also be demonstrating a simple sensory experiment to people at King's Cross station on Sunday afternoon from 2pm and collecting money in aid of Sense UK

How would you describe it in three words?

Joyful science craftiness

Why do you think it’s important to discuss the senses?

I love talking with people about science and the senses! From a science perspective, it’s really important to learn how humans make sense of their perceptions because they are the filter through which we understand the world. From a personal perspective, I find engaging with my senses very soothing.

Why should visitors be intrigued and come to your workshop?

You’re going to learn so much about yourself and your senses, and you will have a whale of a time doing it. Also, I am extremely enthusiastic and fond of terrible jokes, so if you like either of those things you’re in for a treat.

Great! And what else are you looking forward to seeing at the festival?

I’m really looking forward to BitterSuite’s performance – I’ve been to many of their previous performances and always come away having experienced something new and thrilling. As an Austen fan, I’m also hoping to find the time to drop in to 'Pride, Prejudice and Perceptions' at the British Academy.

Where would you like to see the sensory area progress to in the future?

One of the things I think about a lot is the future of the senses. What new senses might humans evolve? What senses can we make for ourselves using machine interfaces? I’d love to see Open Senses explore this even more.

How would you like your work to develop in the future?

I’d really like to collaborate with an artist to make a workshop that’s about synaesthetic art as well as synaesthetic science. There are some artistic components to my existing workshop, but working with someone with expertise in that area would be wonderful.

Three words to describe how you feel about the festival?

Full of excitement!

Start your own conversation @OpenSensesUK #OpenSenses2017, this conversation initiated by Natasha Blok.

Interview with Eugene Feygelson: i=u and what it’s all about

shared musical creativity

Hi, can you please introduce yourself and your company I=U?

Hi, I’m Eugene, Brooklyn-born musician. Being raised in that urban oasis of diversity directly inspired me to create i=u. I wanted to create events that brought to life the psychology of how we interact. For example, coming from a classical music family, there wasn’t much improvisation in the house – and yet – improvisation was core to many of the great classical musicians: Beethoven, Bach, Mozart.  No one was really programming improvised classical music events – so I went on to lead this events organisation in London and New York.

So what does i=u mean?

i=u is three different things:

·         i(mprovisation) = u(niversal). We are all creative. A bartender is creative when swinging a bottle around the bar or a lawyer as he composes a contract.

·         i=u is about listening to another person, to listen and engage. Listen, improvise, then listen again. It’s like a feedback loop of listening.

·         Ensure both the performer and audience are mutually involved in the creation of the performance. It’s all about the connection and exchange. In the end there’s no leader and audience, the sense of leadership has been dispersed and everyone contributes to the end creation.

How did it all start?

It started with sound. Senses enhance the world around us, sounds stimulate the brain. You can take away the visual, close your eyes when you listen to classical music and experience the sound. That’s BitterSuite (which I have also been involved in).

So much is focused on our eyes, focusing on the visual over anything else. There is so much more though. Think of a coffee shop: so many options for engagement with the sound, smell, spatial awareness, taste…

I first became aware of the importance of the senses when at 19, I had a cross roads moment when I was a bit bored of playing the violin. I decided to pursue a more academic research focus investigating where music and language fit into human evolution – basic question was like – why am I spending 8 hours a day with this wooden box – what’s driving our interest in music? In the end, I completed a PhD in how improvising musicians use non-verbal communication to communicate ideas at KCL – sort of a more applied aspect from this language and music interest. 

What will i=u be bringing to Open Senses this year?

i=u will have several areas at the festival showcasing a series of workshops, events and concerts.

A wide range of improvised and musical activities I’m really excited by including great artists such as Cosmo Sheldrake and Roscius who create textures and layers of sound with others. Roscius has collected percussion instruments from all over the world – and he samples and improvises world minimal disco with these amazing instruments. It’s magical.

The Rich Mix programming is more upbeat – Shoreditch Church on May 20th will be more reflective – non-alcoholic – mindfulness oriented.

In the lead up we have #improvaday Instagram campaign led by percussionist Maria Finkelmeier encouraging you to engage with wherever you are and take 15 seconds from your day to have some fun with percussive improvisation.

How would you describe it in three words?

Shared musical creativity

Why do you think this is all so important?

We need to be situated in the body. When we are, we are more aware, more integrated and have more care for our environment. Senses are for engagement with other people, animals and our environment. We really listen and really smell. It grounds and situates us.

There are Arts Festivals but this is different in that it explores headspace versus ‘sense’ space.

A huge proponent of this is Ivan Andrade – who will be doing workshops at Rich Mix both weekend days – he draws from Grinberg Method to channel fear as a source of creativity – but it’s all about how the body interprets fear. How it changes and shifts our physiology.

Why should guests visit your performances?

Continuing with that thread. It’s a chance to become present using your ears and your bodies; to engage and realise your creative potential within. There is a freedom; an opportunity to work in an open way which is a rare thing. Any of the activities are great ways to become present.

You can practise your own musicality in advance if you get involved with #improvaday on Instagram. In only a few weeks find yourself much more present. You discover things around you that you might never have noticed before.

We will be selecting a bunch of #improvaday entries and displaying them - so you might see your work exhibited along with others’ work.

There are a wide variety of offerings until the early hours including opportunities to relax and chill in amongst the bustle. We’re centrally located with many of the other activities in Shoreditch so pop along and see as many as you can.

What else are you looking forward to seeing at the festival?

BitterSuite, which I have been involved with; SenCity; Moorfield’s Eye Hospital and other pop up events to surprise! The workshop with Deep Throat Choir is gonna be awesome!

Where would you like to Open Senses in the future?

I hope it becomes a more regular yearly or bi-annual event. It is really important especially in a city like London where it reminds us of our surroundings. We need this to invest time in becoming more grounded and more situated.

What’s next for i=u?

i=u will be touring, spreading the music and improving ways to communicate. We’re going to Barcelona in October for example. We would love to have a devoted space to work and create. Tour the world to gather communicate and share findings through improvising with fellow humans.

Three words to describe how you feel about the festival?

Visionary, innovative, experiential.

Anything else you’d like to mention?

'She Can Just Whistle' – it is an incredible film I’ve been involved with – and its gaining momentum. The project is about how women and whistling or women whistling have been prohibited in a variety of work, sacred and public spaces – and how this has transferred to a new code of behaviour – one we aren’t even really aware of.

The film-maker,Thea Stallwood, is amazing and will actually be lending a hand in the festival – talk to her! It’s just such a great idea. We had the screening a few weeks back. I’m really excited to be sharing this narrative and story with the world!

Come join #improvaday before it all kicks off this weekend!

Start your own conversation @OpenSensesUK #OpenSenses2017, this conversation initiated by Natasha Blok.

Interview with Juri Nishi: Art, Architecture and Movement

listening, gathering, perceiving

Hi Juri, can you please tell us a bit about who you are what are you up to in the festival?

I am a Japanese artist working in architecture and choreography. I create performances that challenge perceptions of the body, energy, time and space.  I am interested in cultivating spaces in which the mind and body can listen and the heart can open. In this state individuals find the possibility of fresh insights and new connections between themselves and the world around them.

The piece I have made for the Open Senses festival is called ‘Umwelten’ (which means Surroundings) at the Royal Academy.

‘Umwelten’ is a site-specific immersive performance that stimulates a new perception of architecture through the senses. The piece draws on the history and mythology of Burlington house and the generations of aristocratic families who lived there. These stories form the backbone for an embodied experience of the building’s architecture.

“Through our skin we also touch the world and express something of who we are and how we feel; in this contact we gain feedback from the world about ourselves.” Linda Hartley

The title makes reference to a term used in sensory ecology, a study on how organisms acquire, process and responds to information from the environment, exchanging materials, energies and sensory information. The ‘umwelt theory’ proclaims that the mind and the world are inseparable, as it is the mind that interprets the world for the organism. This is what we will be exploring.

During the symposium, I’ll also be having a conversation about the relationship between art, body and architecture and the practice of listening with architecture and urbanism professor Nick Dunn from Lancaster University at 5:30pm.

What’s your story about how you got involved in the senses?

As a child I was a gifted singer and I’ve always been interested in different forms of listening. When I first worked in architecture I was designing spaces for the human bodies but I didn’t really know how to connect to my own body. When I later trained in dance my sensibility and perception of the world shifted completely and everything I do now comes from the place of listening through my own body.

What in particular can people look forward to with your activity at the festival?

You can look forward to forming a new perception of your surroundings through an experience of choreographed movement, poetry, voice and touch.

How would you describe it in three words?

Listening, gathering, perceiving.

How did you get involved in Open Senses?

When I met Stephanie Singer, our conversations flowed like a stream. I was interested in her way of thinking about sound and spaces and I shared a concept I was putting together a new piece that compared a human body to a building. We then decided to collaborate together to create a site-specific performance for the Royal Academy of Arts that brings about new ways to ‘sense architecture’.

Why was it so important to you?

I believe that senses play a fundamental role in being human, which needs to be cultivated at the forefront of our complex lives. With advancing technology, our society is becoming increasing connected through virtually reality and at the same time, it creates disconnection from presence and physical contact. Screens gather our gaze and make our bodies close inwards, desensitizing and moving us away from the present and physical dimension.

What else are you looking forward to seeing at the festival?

The talk by Juhani Pallasmaa at the symposium. His writings have inspired my work.

Where would you like to see the sensory area moving to in the future?

I’d like to see projects where artists collaborate with schools and the NHS, especially working with special needs schools, psychiatric hospitals with sensory needs and wards/ community centres with dementia.

How would you like your performances to develop in the future?

I would like my performances to reach out to audiences who are not dance or theatre-goers by developing a form that feels more accessible to people. Umwelten is an immersive performance, putting the audience in the centre of the experience rather than passively observing from the outside. I am also exposing parts of the artistic process to demystify the art-form. Dance and performance is an art form that can feel exclusive to the point that people feel they need to be educated to enjoy or understand it. I want to show that that’s not true, we all have a body and we all know how to feel so we can all be drawn into dance through our intuition and physicality.

Three words to describe how you feel about the festival?

Imaginative, opening, nourishing

Start your own conversation @OpenSensesUK #OpenSenses2017, this conversation initiated by Natasha Blok.

 

Interview with Linzy Na Nakorn: Producing Workshop Wizardry

visceral, inspiring, diverse

Hi Linzy, please tell us a bit about yourself and what you’re up to?

I am the creative producer for the Open Senses Workshop & Conversation strand based at The Open Senses Hub, which will be the heart of the festival at The Trampery in Old Street. I am really excited about this program as it is diving into the world of tactility through workshops that explore touch from the perspective of dance, psychology, food, creative writing, textiles, VR technology and voice.

How did you get started in the tactile world of senses?

My background is dance and I work as a contemporary dancer alongside production so touch and physicality are things that have been very dominant in my work/life for a long time. My interest in multi-sensory work was really sparked by a project I performed in in 2011 which was working with dancers with visual impairments to explore accessibility for visually impaired users in town centres. Through working with dancers whose sensory experience was so different to mine, I learnt so much about how we can connect with each other and our surroundings by way of touch, voice and so many other senses I never knew we had until that point. It fascinated me.

What can people look forward discovering in the Hub?

I really think there is something for everyone in this program in a way that will provoke, challenge, ignite and engage participants to discover new ways to engage with the city of London and each other. We have workshops, talks and interactive installations happening over two days in one building that can have you exploring the physical experience of voice in the morning, living textiles (fashion that you can plant when you’ve finished wearing it!) over lunch, the sensory potential in VR technologies in the afternoon, a blindfolded tour of Old Street early evening, all finished off with a multi-sensory wine tasting and a sewn portrait of yourself!

How would you describe it in three words?

Visceral, Inspiring, Diverse.

Why did you get involved?

I have worked with the festival’s director Stephanie Singer and her multi-sensory immersive company BitterSuite for four years now and when Steph first mentioned to me the idea of a sensory festival that would take over London and celebrate some of the cities’ most innovative artists, creators, makers, psychologists, dancers and writers (the list could go on) all working in the multi-sensory field, there was no way that I couldn’t jump in!

In particular why do you think the senses are important?

I think we live in an age where we are really sensorial-ly over stimulated in a very negative way and the need for escape seems to be driving us toward cutting ourselves off from our senses in search of relief; be that through social media, gaming or television. It really feels like we are cutting ourselves off from each other, when we are perhaps at a crucial point in time where communication and empathy are key. We often have more physical contact with our phone screens than we do with other humans. This concept seems mad to me. By re-engaging with our sensory experience and exploring what that might mean on a very human level, I think it can only open us up to more innovative thinking: socially, artistically, politically and scientifically.

Why should people be making a beeline for the Hub at The Trampery?

While the workshops are thought provoking, intriguing, curious and immersive they are predominantly FUN and all the artists involved do incredible things. While there are workshops and conversations happening, there are also lots of installations, exhibitions and pop-up events throughout the building which means that you can really spend the whole day getting to hear, feel, see, smell and experience London in a new way.

What else are you looking forward to seeing at the festival?

The Crossmodalist Cabaret: Music, Drama, Sex, Photography, and Art happening on the Saturday night of the festival at Platform, in Southwark.

What would you love to see happen with Open Senses in the future?

The festival is taking place across London in some brilliant venues who are all hosting such a range of events, my blue sky ideal would be to expand the festival to spill out more into public places, parks, roof tops, roads, canals, gardens, a festival that can happens in the royal concert halls and also in people’s front gardens!

What would you like to do in the future within this field?

I’d really like to create a program that is directed specifically at young people so as to engage conversation and thinking about tactility, smell, sight, taste and sound on a more day to day level from an earlier age. It really drives creative thought, problem solving, innovation and communication, and I think it could be a valuable edition within education.

Describe three words of how you feel about the festival?

Excited, inspired, humbled.

Anything else to say?

Make sure you get your tickets in quick as things will fly...

Many already have, so check out through the website and book your sessions…

Start your own conversation @OpenSensesUK #OpenSenses2017, this conversation initiated by Natasha Blok.

 

Interview with Kara Jarrold: Sensory Arts and Accessibility with Sense

experimental, inclusive, evocative

Hi Kara, can you tell us a little about yourself and Sense?

Sure, I'm Kara Jarrold, Head of Arts and Wellbeing at Sense. Sense began in 1955 and supports people who are deafblind, have sensory impairments and complex needs. It provides, among other things, info and advice, accommodation services, day opportunities and campaigns strongly for disability rights. I’m responsible for our creative and active programme and ensuring that people with complex needs have access to high quality opportunities in the arts.

Why are Arts and Wellbeing important at Sense?

Access to the arts is so important but can often be misunderstood as simply a ‘nice thing to do’ rather than as a fundamental right – creativity gives us the tools to make sense of the world and articulate our thoughts and feelings and we’re yet to find ways of making this available to all. At Sense we’re interested in starting to find ways to empower people to find their cultural voice. We’re doing this through working collaboratively and experimentally with artists and participants to explore access to art through the senses. We’re playing around with environments and breaking down artistic processes into basic sensory elements to find new ways of tapping in to people’s creative potential.

How are the senses incorporated in your work at Sense?

We’ve been developing a really exciting arts programme at Sense which establishes the concept of Sensory Arts Practice as a new strand of inclusive arts. This approach is all about using the senses as a stimulus for artistic enquiry, developing the idea of sensory communication and playing with the environment to encourage creativity. We’re exploring this sensory approach because it provides new ways of accessing art, concepts, narratives and emotion for people with communication challenges. I love the interdisciplinary way of working and thinking ‘what happens if we try different textures, temperatures, smells, tempos…’ etc. It’s also just really, really exciting to play and explore different ideas with the senses!

And how did you first get involved with Open Senses?

I’ve worked with Steph Singer for a while now through her involvement with Sense and she’s pushing the idea of using sound, taste, smells and the sensory landscape in her work. Our approaches really chime and we keep coming back to the idea of sensory practice and how this type of work is getting more and more recognised.  So when the idea of the festival came up I obviously couldn’t wait to get involved.

What has Sense worked on at the Open Senses Festival this year?

Sense is involved in quite a few ways: as an accessibility consultant, working with others to develop accessible experiences; supporting artists with sensory impairments to create new work for the festival; and exhibiting some of our existing work.

Busy then! Which bits are you most excited about?

Marcus Innis’ exhibition at Moorfields Eye Hospital for sure! I’m really excited about this original work which provides a glimpse into his experience of Usher Syndrome – a genetic condition affecting sight and hearing – through photography, film and design. The condition affects everyone differently but can result in tunnel vision, night blindness and distortions in perceiving colour. It’s interesting to be showing this work in a clinical environment, within a working hospital, and putting those two experiences, of patient and artist, together; it’s creating a dialogue about the creative opportunities that come from seeing or sensing things differently.  I’ve been working with Marcus for a while and I’m really looking forward to seeing it all come together. There’s going to be a small immersive film screening on the Saturday only (so get along to the opening from 11am).

I’ll also be visiting the V&A Museum who will be showing a series of films Sense and Kate Dangerfield (PhD student at Roehampton University) have been collaborating on. Last year we received funding from the BFI’s Diversity Fund to develop new ways of creating access to low budget film-making for people with complex needs. The project workshops have been participant-led and through working with all sorts of wearable and accessible equipment, participants have been creating fascinating films which really open up their world to us. Expect stop-motion animation, drumming and dreamy ethereal landscapes. We also worked with the V&A to develop their sensory backpacks which are available to hire all year round and especially over the weekend.

In addition to all of this, Stephanie Tyrrell (the National Arts Manager at Sense) and I are talking at the Symposium about our work and Sensory Arts Practice, and Sense will be collecting at Kings Cross station alongside the performances curated by I=U.

So there are loads of ways to come and say hello!

Plenty! How would you describe all of that in just three words?

Experimental. Inclusive. Evocative.

Why did you get involved with the Open Senses Festival?

I’m all about this work, I didn’t need any persuading! I also think that the turn to the sensory is a really important opportunity for us, as a society, to value and understand those who have little access to the cultural world. Through the senses, people with complex disabilities can find new ways to communicate and express meaning and also, most importantly, be art makers and consumers like anyone else. We can also learn a lot from others when we take a step back and start thinking from the starting point of the senses; these are such basic shared human instincts.

And also, it’s going to be a lot of fun! Sensory exploration has so many applicable uses in our lives today particularly in new approaches to technology, architecture and wellbeing. It’s exciting to step out of our insular worlds and start appreciating the big wide world out there which is full of sensory information. That’s what this festival is all about.

Why should people come out and experience Open Senses?

The festival is not focused on disability but there are so many unexplored creative opportunities when we start thinking about creative agency and opportunities. A good starting point is a festival like this that puts artists with disabilities on the same platform as everyone else. So by coming to one of the events that Sense is involved with, hopefully you’ll go away with a greater appreciation for access to the arts and will have seen some great stuff that’s made you think.

What else are you looking forward to seeing at the festival?

How much time have you got? There are loads of interesting things happening and familiar faces around so I expect we’ll hit the trail and see where it takes us. I’m interested in the immersive experiences but also getting my hands on materials so there’s plenty to keep me occupied!

Where would you like to see the sensory area developing in the future?

There’s so much potential and through our art programme we will be embedding sensory practice into everything we do, which will take us down some really interesting roads. Taking a sensory approach also has so much potential for access and I’d like to see more mainstream organisations and institutions exploring how to make their collections or work more inclusive. It’s not just about physical access but also about creating emotional access – we’re exploring how you might convey the emotion in a painting or a piece of choreography, for example, through the senses. These are aspects of the human experience that everyone has a right to.

I’m also anticipating the rise of the sensory in our everyday environments and I’m intrigued by the idea of sensory-led design. I love it when I meet someone who is incorporating or augmenting the senses in different fields like science, technology, architecture, design and so on; there seems to be a growing appreciation for embracing the human sensory instinct and a realisation that we’ve all become, well, a bit disembodied and attached only through technology.

How would you like Sense to progress in the future?

It’s exciting to imagine a future where people with complex communication challenges, who may not yet be able to fully articulate their thoughts and feeling, could do this through the senses. As someone working in the arts, working with people whose creative potential is yet to be realised is really inspiring. We just don’t know where that is going to take us yet.

We’re about to embark on two major projects which will push this work forward. Sense is about to open a new centre in Birmingham, TouchBase Pears, which will be a home for Sensory Arts Practice and a place of artistic excellence. We’ll be working with established and emerging artists to deliver a fully inclusive programme, part of which is ‘Sensibility’, our second big project. This project, funded by the Arts Council, will culminate in a Sensory Arts Festival in Birmingham in May 2018, where we’ll be celebrating the contribution of artists with complex needs in contemporary culture. We’ll even be working with some big names you’ll recognise from Open Senses… watch this space!

Wow, it’s spreading already! And three words to describe how you feel about the Open Senses festival?

Intrigued. Inspired. Excited.

Any closing thoughts?

This is just such an amazing opportunity and Steph [Singer] has crafted such a great platform for people passionate about this work, I’m looking forward to immersing myself in it, in true sensory fashion…

See you there!

Start your own conversation @OpenSensesUK #OpenSenses2017, this conversation initiated by Natasha Blok.

Interview with Chris Lloyd from the Crossmodalists on the Characterful Crossmodal Cabaret

coolest f*cking sh*t

Hi Chris, so Crossmodalism keeps being mentioned, what’s it all about? 

Crossmodalism is a movement born from the synthesis of art, science, and entrepreneurship. It is based in learning and collaboration across non-traditionally linked disciplines, ideas, and communities. Through this foundation, Crossmodalism fosters an appreciation of the full human experience in connection to its sensorial and natural environment.

Is it a new thing then?

Crossmodalism has existed for millennia: from Wagner’s ideal of Gesamtkunstwerk, the baroque concept of Taffelmusik, to Aristotle’s maxim of synergy, to the Middle Age study of the Quadrivium and Trivium, and all the way back to 2000BC with the Four Ancient Arts of the Chinese Scholar. Crossmodalism in its current form, born of sensory collaboration, is named in homage to the Crossmodal Research Laboratory, and Charles Spence, our personal Jean Cocteau.

Good to know it’s got some distinguished characters behind it! So what’s the Crossmodalist Cabaret?

15 events, 3 nights, 1 venue. The Crossmodalist Cabaret has EVERYTHING: from silent ethical porn and live music, to an exploration of the art of tea, to a nine hour endurance dance/violin world premiere, to a perfume concert, to a food photography exhibition.

Wow! A lot then, and three words to describe your event?

Coolest F*cking Sh*t.

Can’t argue with that! Any other reason you’re involved in Open Senses?

XM exists for the Crossmodalist Community - those practitioners who make the Crossmodalism movement. With the Berlin Chapter of Crossmodalism starting, the Cabaret provided an excellent opportunity to provide a platform for practitioners globally.

Why should people roll up to the Cabaret?

Come one, come all - the incredible depth and diversity of the Crossmodalist Cabaret will shock you, blow your mind, inspire, and introduce you to concepts you never knew existed. And it’s all happening in one place.

What else would you like to see?

Hack the Senses and Elephants and Volcanoes - Two amazing Crossmodalist groups bringing amazing work!

Where do you see the future of the senses going?

Multi-sensory is going nowhere unless it develops a way to communicate to others. Narrative is key. First we played with the senses - now we need to mould it into something tangible that speaks to people.

And the future of Crossmodalism?

Crossmodalism is a movement. Why do you care? Because it’s a movement that can unite three disparate worlds to create something better combined.

Cool and finally three words to describe the festival?

Ambitious, logistical nightmare.

Let’s make it an event to remember in that case!

Start your own conversation @OpenSensesUK #OpenSenses2017, this conversation initiated by Natasha Blok.

Interview with Dr Tereza Stehlikova: Journey to the Interior

imagination geology senses

Hi Tereza, can you please tell us a bit about yourself?

Along with being attached to the University of Westminster as a senior lecturer in Moving Image and a researcher at the Royal College of Art, I am also a filmmaker working in digital media. I am part of an international network of artists called Sensory Sites, which I set up in 2009. We work in and with unique spaces and are interested in creating a dialogue with their particular genius loci.

How did you get into the sensory stratosphere?

Almost 10 years ago I embarked on my PhD in how to evoke tactility through image and sound. The Czech filmmaker Jan Svankmajer was the key inspiration behind this. I also had experience in working in CGI which frustrated me, it didn’t feel real, because there was no tactile connection. At the same time I watched my daughter learning the world through touching and using her senses and it got me thinking.

The next shift came through an introduction to Charles Spence and Charles Michel in 2013, which led to an Icelandic Feast: an immersive, multisensory banquet and participatory art project. I discovered the joy of using food, the most multisensory medium, in my performances, to “evoke and provoke essential states of the mind that otherwise cannot be evoked” FT Marinetti.

What can people look forward to with your event at the festival?

Using the success of the Icelandic Feast based on William Morris’s journey to Iceland, I continued my interest in sensory perception and landscape. Can one evoke a journey by means of food, literally ingesting a landscape? My multisensory performance “Journey to the Interior” based on Jules Verne’s story, will lead participants on a sensory journey using all their senses, to stimulate their imagination and reveal hidden worlds. I will also create a short film of the journey, to allow those who weren’t able to be there to experience it.

How would you describe it in three words?

Imagination, Geology, Senses.

 Why did you get involved with the Open Senses Festival?

I got involved because I passionately believe that we need to pay more attention to our senses! Our senses are the gateway to our experience of reality. By sharpening our senses we can become more awake, more alive, more aware. Art and poetry can help us.

Why should visitors join your ‘Journey to the Interior’?

Come to play, reawaken your imagination on an impossible journey! You will be encouraged to use all your senses to guide you along a fantastical journey, through the sediments of memories and through the strata of your own imagination. What you discover will to come extent depend on you.

What else are you looking forward to seeing at the festival?

I would love to attend everything, but realistically I will most likely spend the weekend preparing everything for Sunday! But can’t miss the Symposium!

Where would you like to see Open Senses progress to?

I would love to see it as an international concept taken to different cities. I would like to see schools and universities to get involved and for it to be ongoing; a sustained effort that generates collaborative projects.

How would you like your work to cultivate in the future?

I want to continue along these lines. I like collaboration. Being a film maker, it can get quite isolating and the collaborative aspect allows for a fascinating creative process. I will continue my sensory workshops as a space for creative dialogue to happen. I will keep my eyes, ears, nose, skin, and tongue tuned to what is happening around me, and look for ways of weaving new stories in performance and film. And of course, I will work on turning Journey to the Interior into a film!

What three words would you use to describe how you feel about the festival?

Playfulness, interconnection, openness.

Anything else you’d like to mention not yet covered?

I will also be presenting my short film 'Dinner for Deep Surface Divers' at the Symposium.

See you there!

Start your own conversation @OpenSensesUK #OpenSenses2017, this conversation initiated by Natasha Blok.

Interview with Roma Brown: a Word (or two) with Artistic Director, In Sight Theatre

interactive, tasty, story-based

Having been introduced by Amy Neilson Smith, can you please tell us a bit more about In Sight Theatre and Word on a Plate?

In Sight Theatre is an inclusive theatre company dedicated to make disability arts part of the mainstream. I co-founded this company with Zara Jayne in late 2015 as a platform from which to launch careers for mixed ability performers. ‘Word On A Plate’ is all about using something we all have in common – food – and expressing individuality through the way we interact with it and feel about it.

How did you first get into multi-sensory experiences?

Working in the realm of disability arts, I am always striving to find ways that all participants and performers can be involved and creatively stimulated. It has been through working with people that don’t have access to all of the senses that I have discovered the importance of providing multi-sensory experiences. In this way there is something for everyone to enjoy. 

What can people look forward to with 'Word On A Plate’?

Free workshop 'Word On A Plate' is all about having fun with food and experiencing it through unexpected senses. Rather than putting food on your plate with the aim of eating it, we will be exploring the way it feels, sounds and looks, creating a landscape and characters that inhabit your plate! In this way the plate turns into its own little world with its own story.

How would you describe it in three words?

Interactive, tasty and story-based.

Why do you think the senses are so important?

The senses are how we experience life: how we communicate and how we get inspired. Reinventing how we experience art and daily life through sensory exploration has the potential to improve accessibility and provide new ways of interacting with each other.

How would you like your performance to develop in the future?

'Word On A Plate' has some great multi-cultural potential. I would love to see this develop into an installation that shows plates of food from all over the world and tells those country’s stories and traditions in a fresh and interactive way.

Sounds delicious! What about three words (not on plates yet) to describe how you feel about the festival?

Excited, curious and inspired.

Bring on the tasty treats!

Start your own conversation @OpenSensesUK #OpenSenses2017, this conversation initiated by Natasha Blok.