Value Perception in Multissensorial Art Experiences

Camilla Marçal
4 min readAug 8, 2017

Imagine you’re standing in front of a painting of kids playing at the seaside.

You see it and perhaps it reminds you from your childhood, when your family used to go to the beach on summertime.

Now imagine that, at the same time, you could listen to the sound of waves breaking in the sea. Wouldn’t that provide you a deeper experience?

Acting like technology and art are opposite fields from the cultural spectrum demonstrates a critical level of myopia upon the user experience in art. Even thoug art and technology immiscibility is criticized, there are still some old ideas about technology ruining the real meaning of an artwork being propagated.

Walter Benjamin, the author of The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility (1975), said arts technical reproduction means the liquidation of the value of tradition in the cultural heritage and so, when this reproducibility is possible, the art becomes from an unique event to a massified one. It loses its aura.

Another author who criticize the relationship between art and technology is Agostini (2008). He defends the idea that technology is in some way making thoughts more superficial and transforming art into a exclusively personal and selfish manifestatition when compared to the past century artworks.

For counteract these pessimist visions about the joinder of art and technology, we can take a look in The Paradoxical Happiness, by Guilles Lipovetsky (2007). In this book, the author brings up the idea of multissensorial experiences as emotional ties builder. When brands transform its costumer experiences in multissensorial experiences, they are generating subjective well-being, what leads to — in the author words — an emotional consumption.

Ok, but what does Lipovetsky ideas have to do with that pessimist vision?

Imagine you are at an art museum and you see a beautiful painting. You can’t touch it, you can’t smell it and you can’t hear it. You can only see it. Well, with technology we can transform passive experiences like that into active ones¹. Passive experiences are those which result in an unilateral and linear process of interpretation caused by the spectators outside-participation in the artwork.

And when the experience with a painting — for example — become participative, the emotional ties are build and some barriers that existed for a deeper interpretation are knocked over.

Livyatanim and ressignification of musical experience:

When a studying about the different ways of participating in art experiences, I found “Myth”, a website developed by Or Fleisher in collaboration with Aviv Meshulam. It’s a presentation in virtual reality of a music by Livyatanim, a germanic-israeli band which aims to build new ways of making music. According to its founders, Meshulam and Rousso:

“A primary interest we had was the possibilities that unfolded when working with other artists and fusing them into our own vision of themselves. Making them sound completely different and fresh, sometimes trying to make them unknown to our own ears.”

The website allows public interaction since it’s a virtual reality videoclip and that means the experience of listening to a music is transformed in a more complete and participative experience. Considering the ideas about multissensorial experience, what I expected was that virtual reality would potencialize what people feelt when listening to Livyatanim’s music.

When making a brief research with random volunteers, I analyzed their experiences in VR and it shows up to be clearly different from when they were just listening the music. A nonlinearity in the interpretations pops out, making room for diversified subjective ideas. The volunteers brought up some feelings and words to define the VR experience like: difficulty in concentrating, curiosity, synchrony, intensity and hallucination.

“I felt like inside a VaporWave videoclip. I don’t know, it looks like a drug trip”. Said one of the volunteers.

Consummers analyze “Myth” differently. Every of them follow different values and experiences in their life backgrouds. Despite this, there is a tendency about how significant a multissensorial experience can be.

The question is: how deep can we make people immerse in art experiences?