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Open Senses Symposium

  • Senate House, University of London Malet Street London WC1E 7HU United Kingdom (map)

The Open Senses Symposium brings together an interdisciplinary group of practitioners and artists exploring sensory practice. The event features exhibition stalls, panel discussions, pop-up talks and experiences showcasing work in academia, inclusive practice, scent, food, medicine, theatre, music, law, restaurants, typography, dance … and more.

The goal of the Symposium is to challenge, demonstrate and interrogate how sensory practice is capable of building greater connection to the world, our environment, the people around us and ourselves.

Powered by crossmodalism.

The full programme is below.

Full Programme

Presentations - Beveridge Hall

15:30 Dr Mariya Moosajee - Blind Art

Exploring the relationship between sight and tactile art, how can we create solutions for people who are visually-impaired, and in what ways can people who are visually-impaired still appreciate and create visual art? By examining the specific internal processes that happen within tactile art, such as the ability of touch to stimulate the visual cortex, Moorfields Eye Hospital is changing misconceptions about the assumption that visual-impairment stops individuals from being able to experience art.

15:50 Dr Iain McGilchrist - Have We Lost Our Senses?

Although bodies are on display all around us, now more than ever, do we still inhabit them? Although we indulge ourselves, is this a sign of vitality, or of a desperate attempt to defib a corpse? Could we actually be losing the richness of our senses, and becoming... machines?  

16:10 Dr. Katie Whitcroft & Dr. Rozelle Kane - Olfaction and Emotion

From our first breath to our last, our navigation and interpretation of the world is silently guided by a forgotten sense: smell.  Ear nose and throat surgeon, Dr Katie Whitcroft, and nutrition specialist Dr Rozelle Kane will take you on a journey through life, and explain how - more often than not - we unknowingly follow our nose.     

16:45 Dr. Tereza Stehlikova - Film: Deep Surface Divers: Sensory Journeys in Film

Can a simple dinner become the means of transportation into an inner world of the imagination? Tereza will be presenting a short film, which uses the structure of a four-course meal to convey an experience of a journey. The film is part of her research into evoking multi-sensory impressions and embodied memory in moving image.

17:05 Kate Dangerfield - Film: The Accessible Film Project

A discussion on the films produced during the accessible film-making workshops in collaboration with participants with sensory impairments and other complex needs. Can participants’ sensory experience be expressed through an audiovisual medium? And how can these films be translated and made accessible to the people who created them?

17:25 Dr. Beatrice Allegranti - Film: I Can’t Find Myself

Director & Choreographer: Beatrice Allegranti
Composer: Jill Halstead
Cinematographer: Rami Bartholdi

This screendance presents multiple intensities, sensations, sounds, rhythms, movements, relations, politics and the chaos of dementia. One woman's powerful and evocative journey highlights the emotional, kinaesthetic and sonic world of memory, love and loss. Supported by: Grieg Academy of Music, University of Bergen; Department of Psychology, University of Roehampton; Alzheimer’s Society UK.

17:55 Dr. Beatrice Allegranti - Performance: I’ve Lost You Only to Discover That I Have Gone Missing

Choreography: Beatrice Allegranti in collaboration with the company dancers
Original Soundscore: Jill Halstead
Dancers: Luke Birch, Sabrina Gargano, Takeshi Matsumoto, Aneta Zwierzyńska

This short dance theatre piece tackles social and medical taboos about love, loss and fractured intimacy. The work was developed through a collaboration with people living with young onset dementia, their loved ones and Beatrice Allegranti Dance Theatre. The project is funded by Arts Council England. Partners: Dementia Pathfinders UK, St George's NHS, London Borough of Richmond Upon Thames Arts Service, University of Roehampton – Centre for Arts Therapies Research, Hornsey Arts Centre.

18:30 Kate Goodwin - Sensing Spaces: Architecture Reimagined
@GoodwinKate / @architecture_RA

‘Sensing Spaces: Architecture Reimagined’ set out to explore the sensorial, experiential and emotive qualities of architecture in the context of an exhibition. In this talk, the curator reflects upon the outcome of working with 7 architects to create installations that aimed to heighten visitors’ awareness and sensibilities to the spaces around them, not only within but beyond the gallery walls.

18:50 Professor Charles Spence - Experiential Dining

Professor Spence will take a closer a look at the recent explosion in experiential multisensory dining, where theatrical, magical, emotional, and storytelling elements are brought together to create memorable off-the-plate dining encounters that engage all of the senses. He will highlight a number of the most fascinating examples in the space detailed in his new book, Gastrophysics: The New Science of Eating.

19:25 Ian Heywood - Sensory Arts and Design

Ian Heywood discusses the important new text Sensory Arts and Design and how artists, designers and researchers are exploring the creative and practical significance of the senses. This ground-breaking book brings art and design into the field of sensory studies providing a clear introduction to the field and outlining important developments and new directions.

19:45 Professor Juhani Pallasmaa - Landscapes of the Senses - Touching The World

Since the invention of the printed book, Western culture has been increasingly dominated by vision. Architecture is taught, practiced and judged as a visual art. Yet, arts are constituted in human experience, and are therefore the object of a person's perception. Experiences are multisensory and the senses constantly interact. What changes about architecture when we judge it from the perspective of the human physically moving through it and the multi-sensory experience they have?

Conversations - Grand Lobby & Balcony

15:30 Fiona Carlston - Creating Scents in a World of Scent Fatigue

Fragrance creators are passionate about exploring new ingredients and scent concoctions in order to delight. However in a world of sensorial overload, how can scent really be noticed and make an impact?

15:30 Andrew Mashigo - Beyond Sight

This session will explore how visually impaired artists create artworks, discussing constraints and reviewing some solutions. A 3D imaging and an expressionist painting will support a short description of the creative process and a blind artist in attendance will give insight into her practice.

16:00 Zara Jayne Arnold & Amy Neilson Smith - An Alternative Logic - Tasting a New Perspective

This seminar will open the elegiac gateway to the imagination - starting with a little metaphorical gaming. We will be moulding metaphors into poetic scribblings and using our tongues to taste a new perspective. Sensorial stimulation is the key to unlocking your ‘inner poet’. You’ll walk away with a living, breathing, sensorial creation of your very own.

16:00 Brooke Belldon - Our Modern Lives: 4160 Tuesdays
A myth busting workshop about naturals and synthetic fragrances.
We have seven new all natural fragrances, and two 100% synthetics. When you add the synthetics to the naturals the fragrances are a lot lot better.
It's a kind of scented metaphor for how to use science to improve nature.
The world thinks it wants natural, but doesn't realise that a combination is better. We'll show 'em!

16:30 Caterina Nirta, Andrea Pavoni, Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, Danilo Mandic - Law and the Senses

The sensorial is an essential aspect to explore the functioning, limits and possibilities of the legal. There is a necessity to explore in depth the sensorial as a promising tool to critically explore, both epistemologically and ontologically, phenomenologically and ecologically, how law works, how it deals with senses, how law senses, and how law makes sense.

16:30 Dr. Alex Rhys-Taylor - Gut Feelings and Social Formation

Dr. Rhys-Taylor will be talking through the various ways in which our senses are quietly involved in broad transpersonal and historical processes of social formation. From the acquisition of 'sensibility' to the ascription of meaning to particular 'sensoria', our senses anchor us in culture and identity. At the same time, providing ways in which to think about the transformation of culture and address issues of social justice.

17:00 Kara Jarrold & Stephanie Tyrrell - Bringing Art to its Senses

Working with people who have complex communication needs has led Sense UK to question traditional ideas of accessing and 'practising' art. Sense UK are exploring accessibility as a creative stimulus rather than a 'bolt-on' and breaking down artistic concepts into their sensory constituents to create inclusive experiences. Through practical activities, Kara and Stephanie will invite the audience to respond to this idea and explore their perspectives on developing this practice further.  

17:00 Harriet Curnow & Astrid Hilne - A Conversation about Family Art Fun at the V&A Museum

Families visiting the V&A experience free drop in activities including hands-on design and making, digital creativity and interactive, immersive experiences. Reaching 70,000 per annum, families can attend timed performances, take out a backpack or design their own artwork or response to a theme or idea. How well are they doing? What could they do better? Come and take part in a lively discussion.

17:30 Juri Nishi & Nick Dunn - The Body and Architecture

How can we use the body as a metaphor for architecture? And how can this questioning of a body’s relationship to physical space provoke creation of new spaces and new art?

17:30 Adah Parris - I Sense, Therefore I Am.

A conversation to explore the belief that we can tap into our creative power, our sexual energy and understand our identity by exploring our relationship with our senses.

18:00 Helene Minard - Listen to Your Nose

What if we could develop fragrances through synesthesia? Helene will explore the usage of multi-sensorial inspirations to create and translate the invisible world of scents. Through this presentation you will explore the role of an anosmic perfumer... Listen to your nose!

18:00 Christopher Lutterodt-Quarcoo - Technology is Innocent

A hosted conversation looking at the ethics of digital technologies and ways in which it can limit the human experience. But who takes responsibility for the ethical dilemmas that digital technology presents? The technology or the engineer / human behind the technology?

18:30 Dr. Christina Bradstreet - A Mindful Look: Millais's The Blind Girl

Learn how mindfulness and perfume can heighten our visual encounter with a painting. In this session we take a close, mindful look at John Everett Millais's The Blind Girl (1854), and consider Victorian ideas about gratitude for the senses.

18:30 Maxine Hamilton Stubber - Brainwaves, Biophilia and Bliss

We Own Wellbeing are corporate health experts who specialise in bringing multidimensional wellbeing to London's most pressurised environments. Their unique concept - a dedicated on site space - brings cutting edge science and ancient wisdom together in one room, a room2breathe (r2b).

19:00 Roman Rappak & Jay Udo Udoma - The Experiential Age, Memory and the Death of the Old Music Industry

This workshop will look at current shifts in the music industry. Taking the focus away from passive, pre-recorded media and towards immersive and multisensory events, particularly in relation to the role memory has on the appreciation of live music and performance, when combined with all senses.

19:00 Dr. Beatrice Allegranti - Dancing Matters: Making Sense With/in Dementia

Beatrice will reflect on her work and explore how ‘making sense’ is an embodied process. Specifically focussing on the kinesthetic experiences of dementia: the tangled sensorial and socio-political web of self-other relationships. Her emphasis on [kin]aesthetic denotes the ubiquity and interdependence of aesthetic and movement processes in living of everyday life.

Exhibits & Installations - MacMillan Hall & Crush Hall

Bushra Berge - Soulful Media
(All Day, MacMillan Hall)

It is 2030. We have managed to find a way to see more than just 5% of our reality. We have now penetrated the shroud of mystery of dark matter and dark energy that make up around 95% of our reality; and harness it to create transcendental communication. This garment of 2030 allows us to teleport ourselves into each other across time and space to different degrees by mutual consent to create a pure spiritual connection undistorted and untarnished by social constructs. This garment facilitates and supports us to be emotionally naked with each other. Social media has finally become soulful media.

Lesley-Ann Daly - Sensory Augmentation
(All Day, MacMillan Hall)

What if you could hear inside your body? Ultrasonic Intra-Body Communication is a Sensory Augmentation Device that enhances your sense of hearing so that you are able to hear inside your body. This network enables you to be able to hear numerous devices implanted in your body that are tracking and communicating your physiological health data. These conceptual devices are design probes that question the current trend of augmenting our own bodies, and the use of technology to enhance our sensory perception of the world. Each device looks at the impact on the users everyday behaviours when its use has been integrated into their life.

Giles Fletcher - Hearing Colour
(All Day, MacMillan Hall)

Hearing Colour explores the possibilities of turning visual images into music using new device called the Synaestheatre. It converts colour into sound using subtle synaesthetic intuitions we all have, creating an easy-to-learn device that allows anyone to 'see with sound.' Try out the device for yourself, learn how our senses interact, its implications for the visually-impaired, and experience new forms of audiovisual art.

Alan Marsden - Music: Seeing and Feeling with the Ears
(All Day, MacMillan Hall)

As explained in a recent chapter in Sensory Arts and Design (ed. Ian Heywood; Bloomsbury, 2017) listening to music co-opts senses other than hearing in an engaging and enthralling experience. At this presentation, you will have a chance to listen to selected pieces yourself and record your own sensory listening experience. Does your experience match the first-hand accounts of strong and moving experiences with music on which the chapter is based? Do you sense movement, feel weight, etc.?

Luciana Haill - The Flickering Phrontesterion
(All Day, Crush Hall)

In this interactive, participatory artwork the brainwaves of participants are monitored whilst experiencing a classic kinetic sculpture spinning atop a record player known as a ‘DreamMachine’, invoking the phenomena Flicker (brainwaves slow to 8-10 hz cycles) via a process of simple neurofeedback. Emergent sonic-guides and voices recede, new ideas come to the fore, in a secluded space, importantly with their eyes closed, reclined in an air-pumped dentist chair, they float back down, where time disappeared – experiencing reverie. Experience rejuvenation, hypnotic time distortion, refreshed creativity and 'nonlinear thinking’.

Bethany Duckett & Miriam Cantwell - Bloomsbury Academic
(All Day, MacMillan Hall)

Bloomsbury is the leading publisher in Sensory Studies with a range of key titles including the Sensory Studies Series edited by symposium keynote speaker David Howes. Titles available at discount include, Sensory Arts and DesignThe Life of the Senses, The Taste Culture Reader and more.

Listening Bodies
(15:00-16:30, MacMillan Hall)

Experience a sensory installation in the form of a workshop, where you can explore exercises of sensory embodiment on your own body. In pairs or groups of three, participants will be guided through different physical explorations aimed at heightening the sense of their body in relation to space and to others. Through facilitated movement exercises we will be embodying images, memories and association streams as well as improvising with sensory choreography on other bodies.

(17:00-20:00, MacMillan Hall)

We run an immersive, multi-sensory blind-dining experience called Sensoreats. We create a unique environment which allows people to explore how being blindfolded transforms their other senses and their experience of the world around them. To this end, we curate a multiple course tasting menu with a focus on striking unfamiliar texture and taste combinations, scent-based courses, and an immersive surround-sound backing, with participants blindfolded throughout. We weave the various sensory components together to create a narrative-based holistic experience, where the different sensory inputs enhance and distort one another, and where participants interact with each other and the space in novel ways. We are particularly interested in how the experience of being blindfolded influences social interaction.

Hendrick’s Gin Experiment
(18:00-21:00, Crush Hall)
Mixologist Irina Miroff leads a taste test of different gin and tonic samples, powered by Hendrick’s and Fever Tree. Can you taste the colours?