Multisensory Art


Solo exhibition, The Auricle Sonic Arts Gallery, Christchurch, New Zealand – June 2015

postcard_Mishearings_1-1“The ear subtly and actively connives to make what it takes to be sense out of what it hears, by lifting signals clear from noise, or recoding noise as signal… Perhaps, in this sense, all hearing is mishearing, and a kind of deterrence of sound.” Steven Connor, Earslips: Of Mishearings and Mondegreens

The following are sound components of a selection of exhibits from Mishearings.


Audio loop from an installation for eight speakers and chocolate

Bittersweet draws directly on the research paper, “A Bittersweet Symphony” by Anne-Sylvie Crisinel et al, which provided “… the first convincing empirical demonstration that the crossmodal congruency of a background soundtrack can be used to modify the taste (and presumably also flavour) of a foodstuff”. In this, a toffee was tasted with two different soundtracks, each employing previous findings of a crossmodal correspondence between sweet tastes and high-pitched sounds and bitter tastes and low-pitched ones. Participants rated the toffee as being significantly sweeter when sucked on with the higher pitched soundtrack designed to complement sweet flavours and more bitter when consumed with the lower ‘bitter’ track.

In Bittersweet, these correspondences are used to intensify and add ambiguity to a soundscape created from field recordings made in the Italian region of Irpinia, a rural district in which food and wine production embrace both tradition and technological innovation. The work cycles between the low drones of modern equipment in the region’s wineries and the high pitched tinkling of the traditional bells worn by dairy cows that roam its mountains. The fluctuations between pitches change the perception of the chocolate’s taste from bitter to sweet, shifting perspectives that reinforce difference while suggesting the pleasures of both approaches.

Carbonic Oscillation

13. Carbonic Oscillation image

Audio loop from multisensory chamber installation for light projection, speaker and sparkling wine

“Our body has difficulty in knowing where one sense, place or part begins and where another sense, a second place or nearby patch ends. The striped, mingled body is made up of the proximities between gradations. It moves from one sense to another, imperceptibly.” Michel Serres, The Five Senses.

An immersive chamber that embodies effervescence and in which sparkling wine forms the focus of a fusion of all the senses. The effervescing environment was created through a sound work made from recordings of fizzing wine reinforced by a bubbling light projection and the taste and tactile elements of the sparkling wine consumed within it. A work that aims to blur the boundaries between the senses and the art and its audience, breaking down the limiting Cartesian dualism between body and mind.

Hearing Lips and Seeing Voices 
The video for this work can be accessed at this link, using the password: McGurk

This work employs the McGurk Effect, an illusion that occurs when the auditory component of one word is paired with the visual component of another, which leads the viewer to perceive a third different word. This is used to create three poems from a single film loop of lips speaking “McGurk words”. The first poem that was filmed makes no sense. The second can be heard when you close your eyes. Listen and watch the lips, and the overlaying of a new soundtrack means a third, more sinister version can be discerned.

Poetry as I need it

Audio loop from installation for speakers and text

“Hearing perception is interception, the making out of sounds – not least by making them out as distinct and separate ‘sounds’ – as what they will have been before they have a chance to resound as what they might be. Without such systematic mishearing, there can be nothing to be heard, but only the raw and amorphous racketings of noise.” Steven Connor, Earslips: Of Mishearings and Mondegreens.

Through the clamour of everyday life, the brain regularly manages to construct meaning through noise, making fairly accurate judgments from snatches of conversation heard above the din. However, replace this noise with silence and it struggles to make sense of what it’s hearing.

This phenomenon is employed in the work Poetry as I need it, an interrogation of sound, silence, form and time using John Cage’s “Lecture on Nothing”. A reading of the text is cut with blasts of white noise, through which much meaning can still surprisingly be discerned. However, when passages are interspersed with silence, disorientation ensues.


OenosthesiaA series of multisensory wine and sound installations premiered at FARM2012/Interferenze Festival, Tufo, Italy (2012) and later exhibited at MAXXI, Rome (2015)

The work applied crossmodal research into the interactions between hearing and and taste. Further information and audio from Oenosthesia can be accessed here.

This was also featured in a FARM2012 Film about the festival.