Tate Sensorium – Can Tech enable us to feel?


Modern society is constantly bombarded with visual information and data from various sources, the new flow of information substitutes the old before our brain is able to process it. It is the norm nowadays for people to be in a rush and not willing to stop and think about being spoon fed by the media. To some it feels like our imagination’s are much less developed in comparison to previous generations. We have become accustomed to a constant change and that is what we have grown to love. It is reflected in our perception of art. If the latest technology becomes an integral part of an art piece and the whole experience of it, then an art suddenly becomes appealing to a modern society  and young people.


I visited the exhibition at Tate Sensorium on the 20th of September it  presented four works of art from the Tate’s collection using  latest technology such as an Ultrahaptics device and wrist bands that take electrodermal activity readings. Their role was to evoke and track your  emotional experience throughout the tour. The exhibition proved to be highly popular with people from different parts of the World as well as within the UK, there was queuing for several hours along the steps of the main Millibank entrance of the gallery to have chance to obtain free tickets of which there was a limited number. I noticed that the vast majority of the public were young people and not all of them looked like ‘typical’ art enthusiasts. Visitors were allowed to enter in the groups of four and were guided by workers of the gallery. The exhibition space consisted of four parts each one focusing on a particular work of art.

  1. Interior II 1964 by Richard Hamilton

This quite beautiful artwork talked about the 1960s American household and mass consumerism. The mechanical sounds of “switching on and off “as well as the sound of heals banging against the floor surface made the painting much more alive for me, otherwise it would have felt quite static and empty, even cold. Having watched a BBC documentary by Alastair Sooke on Pop Art, where it was described as an art of billboards and where the imagery of the Vietnam war was superimposed over the vision of a promised  abundance called American Dream. I got an impression that Pop Art is all about exposing the ridicule of ”blown up images with no meaning” which were promoting the American Dream and the idea that every aspect of life was” something that could be bought”. However, I understood Pop Art in this piece to be a communicator of the 1950s-60s era with all its perfections and imperfections, even beautifying it as a period in history when all the new modernisation of pretty much everything was taking place. So, it is not at all criticizing it. Here the question arises whether the exhibition’s role is to enhance already imposed ideas or create an option for another interpretation? Maybe it is the meaning that I am supposed to get because it is by a British Pop artist as opposed to an American. British pop artists tried to change the British conservative society at the time towards being more progressive, unlike Americans who hated the stupidity of established concept of American Dream. There were two different scent stimuli’s located in the room, one of them was the original scent of Pledge and the other one was a hairspray. The stimuli were supposed to either evoke memories from those grown up in the era and if not- to hint at the mass production and an influence of big brands.

  1. Full Stop 1961 by John Latham

Is a striking painting of a pitch black sphere like object on a white background, produced using a technique (that was new at the time) of painting with spray paint. I felt that the process of production and the striking contrast between black and white were communicated quite clearly by the sound. The ultrahaptics device was quite an unusual experience, it felt like drops of hot water were penetrating my hand springing upwards and yet there was no water. This together with the sound perfectly reflected the process of production and physical qualities, which the painted sphere might have had was it transferred into the 3 D form.

  1. In the Hold c 1913-14 by David Bomberg

According to the graph and my own feelings, this one had the biggest impact on me. The whole experience made me dizzy: looking at the painting with its irregular abstracted shapes confused the eye, smelling crystals which had a scent of a sickening perfume and hearing the sounds of mechanics. It was interesting to hear afterwards about the intention of the artist to use naturalistic form stripped of all irrelevant matter as I found it quite peculiar that crystals being a naturalistic form were combined with quite geometrical, jagged lines of the painting. What I did not grasp at the time, however found astonishingly brilliant is that one of the smells, which was quite intense but still refreshing was supposed to draw my attention to blue hues in the painting.

  1. Figure in a landscape1945 by Francis Bacon

This one was the most peculiar out of the four to experience. The reason for that is that the title of the painting is conflicting with what you actually see. Instead of being figurative as the word ”figure” suggests, it is completely abstract. Also, I interpreted the painting in a different way to the one intended by the artist. Having tasted chocolate which was filled with something like a dried grass with a smoky taste and generally had a feeling of an edible charcoal, I suddenly imagined trains going through a tunnel. However, the brief said that it was supposed to symbolise the dark nature of a War time and an animalic horse like scent of Hyde park, which is the setting for the painting.

Photo Credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/26677589@N04/2713674511/”>funky1opti</a> via <a href=”http://compfight.com”>Compfight</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a>


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BA Sculpture student at Camberwell College of Arts,London. I am passionate about writing and in particular interested in the connection between modern art and technology,new groundbreaking projects.

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