We primarily think of "art" as being experienced through two of our senses: sight and hearing. Both auditory art and visual art can be representational or non-representational; examples of representational art are songs with words that tell a story and portraits of people, while examples of non-representational art are abstract sculptures and most drone music.

Considering those facts naturally leads to this question: are there analogues to what's talked about above that are mediated through the other three "traditional" senses of taste, smell, and touch? I decided to grapple with this issue in lieu of fulfilling various obligations--this isn't even close to an exhaustive survey of my thoughts on this topic, and I'll likely address it in future writings.


A food's taste can definitely be artful, and it might be considered "representational" in that it is trying to evoke some ideal taste of a given dish/combination of ingredients. The form non-representationally artful taste would take is less obvious. Could one construct substances with tastes that weren't "like" any other taste that humans regularly experience, or do we automatically interpret tastes in terms of the basic tastes we already know? Is it possible to create tastes that evoke emotions or sensations, again without referring to other known tastes?


I could imagine representational smell-art consisting of scents designed to evoke specific experiences or images or situations. For example, you could design an exhibit with dozens of small vials, each containing the sweat of a different president, meant to be sniffed in order from Washington to Clinton. That piece would evoke the experience of sniffing unbathed presidents through the ages. As for non-representational aromas, there are likely trillions of combinations of smells that humans never experience which are completely alien to us--what would they be like? I'd genuinely like to manufacture lots of novel scents and then try wafting them into the ole sniffer. I think neutral aromas would be the most interesting because their neutrality would allow you to contemplate them with a clear mind. Do colognes and perfumes count as non-representational smell-art, or are they meant to evoke something?


I think you could consider massage, carnal acts, and the pleasant feeling of a nice, fluffy sweater being fluffy all over your torso all to be representational tactile art. But what about non-representational? Perhaps one could create shirts with marbles covering the inside. Another possibility is an exhibit in which the art consumer presses their bare skin against a variety of differently textured materials.

Do any of these proposed art forms already exist? I'm particularly interested in smell-art... Has there been a Picasso for smells yet?

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