Bestial Sense: A Smell and Taste Workshop


Organized by: Jia-Hui Lee

Sponsored by: MIT Science, Technology and Society

"Bestial sense" engages the nose and the tongue. It explores two sensory engagements with the world that are said to be more animalistic, visceral, and less understood when compared to sight and hearing. This workshop will try to refute a hypothesis: That smelling and tasting are some of the most arbitrary, private, and subjective sensory modes of experiencing the world. Participants in the workshop will learn a little bit about these senses -- their histories, industries, aesthetics, and sciences -- before participating in an experiment that involves collective smelling and tasting. If, as anthropologists argue, that the senses are indeed social, then by the end of our workshop, we should be able to have produced a local MIT culture of smell-tasting/taste-smelling. 

In this workshop, you will have the opportunity to smell and taste different things, including everyday items, food, wine, and fragrances (as well as some surprising concoctions!). You will be introduced to a few techniques for smelling and tasting, including those practised by perfumers and oenologists, and to other less conventional methods. Please bring your own methods or observations about how you (and other animals) smell and taste! The experiment will run throughout the two days so participation on both days is expected.