Anyone who has ever had a cold is aware of the link between smell and taste. But are smell and taste also linked to vision? London-based creative agency Flying Object wants to find out what happens when we experience art using all our senses. So this fall, they’re mounting an exhibit that will let you touch, hear, smell, and even taste the paintings and sculptures at the Tate Britain.

“Tate Sensorium” will use technology and neuroscience to stimulate the senses of museum visitors. “We can take an artwork and try to bring to life what’s actually depicted,” Flying Object co-founder Tim Partridge told Quartz, “or we can acknowledge that artworks mean different things to different people, and use the other four senses to help people understand that there isn’t one, universal interpretation they’re supposed to discover.”

Art appreciation. (Photo: Flickr/ Darwin Bell)
Art appreciation. (Photo: Flickr/ Darwin Bell)

It might seem really experimental, but restaurants have been doing it for a while. Eating out of heavy crockery makes food taste richer and more expensive, reports Quartz. And in 2007, diners at The Fat Duck were given iPods so they could listen to the sound of waves while they ate seafood.

The experiences at the museum are still being conceptualized, but they could include some trippy new technologies like ultrasonic speakers that project soundwaves at your hands to create the sensation of touch. Imagine looking at a picture of rain while “feeling” it on your hands and smelling it in the room. Or, looking at a picture of a desert.

Feeling without touching (Photo: Ultrahaptics)
Feeling without touching (Photo: Ultrahaptics)

Even listening to headphones (which a lot of people already do at museums) will be upgraded by using binuaral sound technology. That’s when microphones are implanted in a fake ear canal of a fake skull, so that the recordings sound exactly the way they would if you were physically present.

Visitors needn’t be concerned about sensory overload. Partridge points out that museums already have their own sounds, smells, temperatures and other stimulants, just like a restaurant that doesn’t play music isn’t completely silent. All they’re doing is tinkering with those stimulants to see what happens. And who knows what might result? Perhaps you’ll hate the smell of Surrealists but love the taste of Bacon. Francis Bacon, that is.

[via Quartz]