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Did I mention that I love tech?

This week I caught wind of something new – a new touch and sound phenomenon.

The Tate has a great new exhibition ‘Tate Sensorium’ which opened on the 26th August and runs to the 20th September.

The basis for the exhibition is this:

Galleries are overwhelmingly visual. But people are not – the brain understands the world by combining what it receives from all five senses. Can taste, touch, smell and sound change the way we ‘see’ art?

The piece that caught my attention was John Latham’s Full Stop. View the main page for this artwork.

An Ultrahaptics device creates touch sensations on the hand in mid air, using ultrasound. These are sequenced with the audio. The artwork plays with positive and negative space, and the tactile-audio stimulus translates that as presence or absence. The sound especially emphasises the painting’s black and white duality. The two senses work together to create a sense of scale, and of roundness, but also reference Latham’s use of spray paint, and his iterative theory of mark making.


Touchless haptics work by using focused ultrasound from an array of speakers that vibrate on the visitor’s hand. This will create a sensation of touch, and no gloves or special equipment is needed. Touchless haptics use technology developed by the company Ultrahaptics.

I am desperate to take my family to this exhibition and let them feel thin air. In fact, let them sense art with more than just their eyes, even if they are simply looking at a picture. The exhibition covers all the senses: taste, sound, smell etc, in a variety of exciting and innovative ways. It will be be a joy to watch people interacting with art, rather than standing around appearing to be slow moving statues.

Not only can I watch how people respond to it, I can track it (oh it is manna from heaven!). Visitors can use wearable devices (wristbands) to measure electrodermal activity, a measure of perspiration, which indicates how calm or excited wearers are … I think there is an opportunity for too much fun here that may be utilised by the cheekier exhibition goers … for example, how funny would it be to scare someone with a quick ‘Boo’ while they stand innocently looking at high quality art and then seeing the results … I must resist that urge. Oh and these are not gimmicky wristbands, these are medical-quality sensors provided by Empatica, the Tate going the extra mile. Love the Tate.

What a marvellous world we live in, science and art working together – and to top it all off we can all go and be wowed for free. Love the Tate – did I mention that?

Maybe one day we will have adverts you can feel – billboards where you can touch invisible things – or invisible things that can touch you. Beyond art: appliances, cars etc, are already looking at using this technology – invisible controls – AMAZING.

BUT … Think of how amazing it would be to ‘show’ something to someone who has lost their sight … sometimes I think we are all just a little bit too clever for our own good, but boy it is fun.