Abstract: You may have done this: been invited to taste two seemingly similar things, and been asked which you liked better, or which one was different. This little action, part of a larger industry of extracting knowledge from bodies, relies on an approach ethic of disconnecting the products of sensation from the bodies that sense in pursuit of a larger, aggregate truth about the ways that molecules interact with perceiving bodies.
These sensory experiments shape how industrial food systems pattern their product design and invention. They are useful precisely in their ability to transform taste or smell into numbers that allow the creation of products destined for the market. What happens when we disrupt those interactions? When we run sensory experiments as a form of ethnographic inquiry, rather than a form of market making? This open format intervention invites participants to take part in making a space for sensory labor and then performatively disrupting it, creating a new space where information deemed economically useless by its very existence outside of industrial or academic knowledge structures is made useful for investigating what experiences hide in our own olfactory or gustatory shadows.
Bio: Christy Spackman is an assistant professor at ASU, jointly appointed between the School for the Future of Innovation in Society and the School of Arts, Media and Engineering. Her work investigates how science and technology shape sensory experiences of smelling and tasting, and to what effect.