A dull spring afternoon, and in a room on the sixth floor of Tate Modern, people are sipping glasses of wine – then waving their hands around in front of a monitor before turning to mould small models in pinkish-orange and white Plasticine.
They are all taking part in an experiment being run by Professor Barry Smith, director of the Institute of Philosophy, founding director of the Centre for the Study of the Senses at the University of London – and wine critic for Prospect magazine. Smith is exploring the idea that we taste in shapes. This might sound odd but shape is already present in some of the ways we describe food and drink – acidity might be described as “sharp”; a wine might “prickle”; or be “smooth” and all of these descriptions can easily present as a visual form in the mind’s eye. It just isn’t always so easy to get people to translate their experiences into verbal form.
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