Exploring the Senses

Issue 58 May 2020

Considering the Human Condition

“At the core of my practice are concerns as to how humankind comes to terms with mortality: by unearthing the unseen, making the invisible visible. Part of that process is about being open about impairment, and working to empower others through creativity to find a voice with which to challenge stigma. Ultimately my work is underpinned by themes of fragility and resilience, a shared and positive sense of survival in the face of chronic health conditions, and the politics and myths surrounding disability.”

Rachel Gadsden is a British artist who is exhibited internationally and who works across the mainstream and disability art sectors, presenting cross-cultural visual dialogues that consider the most profound notions of what it is to be human.

Mistaken Identity

Since the early 1990s, Paul Vanouse’s artwork has addressed complex issues raised by varied new techno-sciences using these very techno-sciences as a medium. His artworks have included data collection devices that examine the ramifications of polling and categorization, genetic experiments that undermine scientific constructions of race and identity, and temporary organizations that playfully critique institutionalization and corporatization. These “Operational Fictions” are hybrid entities–simultaneously real things and fanciful representations–intended to resonate in the equally hyper-real context of the contemporary electronic landscape.

Processing Hyperacusis and PPPD : Inner-view of Neurological Disorder

“This visual article is based on my acoustic condition of bilateral Hyperacusis (both pain and vestibular type) with also its related levels of hearing impairments (i.e.hidden and  fluctuating hearing loss, bilateral tinnitus, vertigo) as well as Persistent Postural Perceptual Dizziness (PPPD). The combination of hyperacusis and PPPD creates a sensory disability.” This article and the following article will look at the inner and outer response to the disability with a different lens.

Luca M Damiani is a Media Artist and a Lecturer on BA (Hons) Graphic and Media Design at London College of Communication, University of the Arts London. Luca practices internationally in the fields of art, digital media, and visual culture. He works and experiments with creative techniques such as digital technology, animation, photography, coding, and mixed media.

Processing Hyperacusis and PPPD : Outer-view of Neurological Disorder

“This visual piece is interconnected and follows the previous piece ‘Processing Hyperacusis and PPPD : Inner-view of Neurological Disorder’…….in this piece, I look into the outer-view of the condition, considering how the impact of the “inner-view” in response to sound modifies my experience of the urban as a case study.”

Luca M Damiani is a Media Artist and a Lecturer on BA (Hons) Graphic and Media Design at London College of Communication, University of the Arts London. Luca practices internationally in the fields of art, digital media, and visual culture. He works and experiments with creative techniques such as digital technology, animation, photography, coding, and mixed media.

Restoring Things with the Power of Sound

“When reflecting upon the most pivotal experiences in life, those that stand out as being most positively influential to who we are, what would you choose?  If we consider art to be less an object and more a cognitive space to inhabit, than among the top of my list are sonic experiences.”

Daniel Hill is an abstract painter and sound artist whose work has been included in numerous exhibitions exploring the relationship between painting, sound, and science. He is currently an Adjunct Associate Professor of Art at Pace University in Manhattan.

What is the best sense? Scientists are still battling it out.

Harriet Dempsey-Jones is a Postdoctoral Researcher in Cognitive Neurosciences, UCL.

“I am a researcher in the field of cognitive psychology at University College London. I look at how our brains and particular cognitive processes cause our subjective psychological and perceptual experience.
My research looks at how the body processes touch and other sensory inputs. Particularly, I am interested in plasticity in the area of the brain that processes sensory inputs from your body – the somatosensory cortex. I look at how this system is shaped by adding or removing sensory inputs”.

Vibration on the skin helps hearing-impaired people locate sounds

Sean R Mills is a psycho-physicist and sensory neuroscientist at the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research at the University of Southampton.
“I am working on a PhD on the diagnosis of impaired touch perception. I’m also part of the Electro-Haptics Project (www.electrohaptics.co.uk), a multi-disciplinary team working to improve the hearing of Cochlear Implant (CI) users by providing missing information through small vibrations on the skin”.

Mark Fletcher is a Senior Research Fellow within the University of Southampton Auditory Implant Service. He leads the electro-haptics research project (https://www.electrohaptics.co.uk/).

It’s not easy to give a robot a sense of touch

Ajay Pandey is a Senior Lecturer in Robotics and Autonomous Systems at the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. He completed his PhD in Physics on Organic Optoelectronics with mention tres honourable from University of Angers, France. His research interest has the interdisciplinary mix of Photonics, Chemical Physics, Molecular Electronics, Neuroscience and Robotics. He leads an interdisciplinary research group at QUT that specialises in technological implementation of advanced materials for applications in Neuroscience, Intelligent Bionics, Medical Robotics, Soft Robotics, Energy conversion and Night Vision.

Jonathan Roberts is Professor in Robotics at Queensland University of Technology (QUT). His main research interest is in the area of Field Robotics and in particular making machines operate autonomously in unstructured environments. Jonathan is the co-inventor, and current head judge of the UAV Challenge Outback Rescue, an international flying robot competition in which teams search for a lost bushwalker using autonomous robotic aircraft. In 2013 Jonathan made international news by being the first person to 3D map the interior of the Leaning Tower of Pisa using his team’s Zebedee 3D laser scanning mobile mapping system. He continues to have an interest in the use of robotics technology for the use in documenting and protecting important cultural heritage sites.

Six curious facts about smell

Jane Parker is Associate Professor, Flavour Chemistry, University of Reading and manager of The Flavour Centre. Her expertise is in the area of flavour chemistry and the mechanisms by which key odour compounds are formed during thermal processing. Research in flavour formation in a range of fresh produce and sensory and chemical characterisation, provides her with a well-rounded perspective on industrial flavour problems.

The medieval senses were transmitters as much as receivers

Chris Woolgar is Professor of History and Archival Studies at the University of Southampton.

“I have a long-standing interest in the history of the everyday, especially in the medieval period, in patterns of documentation and in editorial work. Publications on medieval social and economic history include two volumes of household accounts edited for the British Academy’s Records of Social and Economic History series, an edition of the testamentary records of the bishops of England and Wales for the Canterbury and York Society, and three books with Yale University Press: The Great Household in Late Medieval England, The Senses in Late Medieval England, and The Culture of Food in England, 1200‒1500.”

What’s lost when we’re too afraid to touch the world around us?

Chunjie Zhang is Associate Professor of German, University of California, Davis. She works in the areas of eighteenth-century studies, postcolonial studies, global modernisms, and cosmopolitanisms. She is the author of ‘Transculturality and German Discourse in the Age of European Colonialism’ (Northwestern University Press, 2017), which delineates a transcultural discourse from the 1750s to the 1830s and highlights non-European impact on German travel writings, dramas, Robinsonades, philosophy of history, and theory of geography. Zhang has published on Goethe, Herder, Kant, George Forster, radical Enlightenment, and the representations of China in Europe. She is also coeditor of “Goethe, Worlds, and Literatures,” a special issue of ‘Seminar: A Journal of Germanic Studies’ (2018).

‘Seeing’ music or ‘tasting’ numbers? Here’s what we can learn from people with synaesthesia

Clare Jonas is a Lecturer in Psychology and works as a research assistant on projects relating to synaesthesia at the University of East London with Dr Mary Spiller.

Josie Malinowski is a Lecturer in Psychology, University of East London. “My academic research interests are primarily within the fields of sleep and dreaming; more broadly, I am interested in consciousness, altered states of reality, the default mode of thinking, embodied cognition, Conceptual Metaphor Theory, and much more.”