Ongoing Research

Sensory Cultures and the Arts

Research project investigating the sensory history of humanity and its relation to the Arts.

This research investigates our relationship to the emergence of vision and visual perception as the most trusted of the senses for human perception of the social and physical world. It looks at how vision became the dominant sensorium across global cultures with the start of the print-culture during the Renaissance and Reformation, associating vision with reason and understanding, while also going far back into prehistoric times when humans relied on multiple senses for survival. During the Upper Paleolithic age for example, mankind the world-over, lived in closed forests and impenetrable jungles, under dark undergrowths and caves. In such a world, humans could not rely on one particular sense to keep them alive, all senses were essential in ensuring survival. Reviewing historical, archaeological, and anthropological literature on the history of arts and artistic practices of prehistoric humanity, will draw attention to how earliest forms of human artistic practices and aesthetics were predominantly non-visual and multi-sensory in nature. As an ongoing research, it wants to challenge our current reliance and colonisation of visual perception over multi-sensory perceptions and how this devalues the importance of non-visual senses. It wants to highlight how this history has shaped human cultures of limited bodily perceptions.