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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 10. Future Multisensory Theories


· 10 ·


In the previous chapters I discussed philosophers’ ideas about perception and sensory meanings. Instead of using the word “communicating,” I’ve used words such as “connecting,” “interacting,” and “relating,” because this book explains how we use sensory perception in conjunction with arts, games, and media in order to express ourselves and to understand others. I also presented philosophers’ ideas about haptic, olfactory, gustatory, auditory, and visual media. And in the last chapter I explained how perception and agency are changing because humans are becoming integrated into networks of “smart” technologies. Throughout these chapters I made suggestions on how practitioners could adapt philosophers’ ideas to their media designs.

In this chapter I recommend that certain philosophical concepts be utilized when scholars build theory. These recommendations should apply whether scholars are conducting research on multimedia, hybrid media, or multisensory media.

I think the most important idea is that perception is always multisensory. When we interact with people and the things around us, we don’t limit ourselves to just seeing, or just seeing and hearing. Whether we realize it or not, we also smell scents and we are aware of our body. We are aware of our body’s current position, and we feel our body’s movements. ← 219 | 220 →

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