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Philosophy for Multisensory Communication and Media

Keith Kenney

Multisensory media – hybrid media that engage more than the auditory and visual senses – is beginning to change the way that we communicate. While hardware and software for capturing and emitting different types of sensory data are still being developed, this book lays a theoretical foundation for their use. Drawing upon the ideas of philosophers who write about sensory perception as well as each of the senses, Keith Kenney explains the issues that communication and media scholars will need to investigate as we begin to exchange haptic, olfactory, and even gustatory messages.

Scholars interested in communication theory, media theory, and multimodality will discover new ideas by current philosophers, while scholars of sensory studies will learn how their field can be extended to communication and media. Designers of multisensory experiences, such as videogame developers, will find practical suggestions for creating richer and more meaningful experiences. A dozen sidebars apply philosophical ideas to common experiences so that the text can be used in advanced undergraduate and postgraduate courses.

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Chapter 6. Gustatory Media


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In the previous chapter I explained how we sniff as well as how much we learn by sniffing. I also explained that olfaction is associated with emotions and memories because all three are part of the limbic system. Although I presented the challenges posed by the olfactory sense, I also described how olfactory media are beginning to play useful roles.

In this chapter I write about the gustatory sense, which means the experience of flavor. After a phenomenological description of gustation, I explain the ongoing discussion among philosophers about whether flavors (and scents) have cognitive meanings or if they simply provide pleasurable sensations. To explain this discussion, I use the example of tasting wine. Then I continue the discussion of the shifting line between pleasure and pain, which I began in the section on sadomasochism and painful games. This time, however, I write about how disgusting foods can become delicious. I had introduced the concept of social aesthetics in Chapter 1, and now I use wine festivals and Songhay dinners as gustatory examples of social aesthetics. I also explain a “stomach-centered” philosophy and how it contrasts with the far more dominant visual philosophy.

Gustatory media is less developed than olfactory media, but progress is being made by Nimesha Ranasinghe, an engineer at the National University of Singapore, and his team (2012). They are developing a digital taste simulator ← 109 | 110 → that uses electrical current along with variations in temperature...

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