Walkshop:
Exploring Our Senses
Through Art & Hapticality

A collaboration with Joey Litvak for Desire and Change: Difficult Dialogues in Contemporary Art and Art Education

Introduction: Don’t just look at the artwork that we present to you throughout our walkshop– smell, feel, taste, and hear the art as well


If this painting came alive, what would it smell like?

  • Gallery: 4th floor show

  • Passage: "Nothing is more memorable than a smell. One scent can be unexpected, momentary and fleeting, yet conjure up a childhood summer beside a lake in the mountains; another, a moonlit beach; a third, a family dinner of pot roast and sweet potatoes during a myrtle-mad August in a Midwestern town. Smells detonate softly in our memory like poignant land mines hidden under the weedy mass of years. Hit a tripwire of smell and memories explode all at once. A complex vision leaps out of the undergrowth." -Diane Ackerman

  • Activity: Gravitate towards work that smells like a memory and describe it to us

Haptic Dinner: What does Fine Art taste like?

  • Gallery: Paintings in the Netherlands in the 1600s (still life room)

  • Food for thought: What taste does the image leave in your mouth? Does it take you back to a meal you’ve had before at a restaurant or a country you visited?

  • Activity: Prepare a dinner menu, not only from the literal food in the paintings, but think about the impression that you get from what you are looking at. Once you have prepared your menu, meet at the “dinner table” (seating in gallery) to discuss

What work reflects the feeling that the music evokes in you?

  • Gallery: Post-War Painting in Canada

  • Song: “Fuzzy Reactor” by Boris featuring Kurihara

  • Activity:How does the haptic hearing experience overlap with the visual haptic experience? Listen to the chosen song and find an artwork that reflects the haptic hearing experience. The aim is to transition from feeling to seeing, and working through that feeling. In a way, closing the gap between your senses.

  • Passage: “Fuzzy Reactor,” has a relatively simple guitar line and rolling drums which comprise the base of the song, but there is also a constant electric hum, gradually changing in pitch and timbre, and placed in the forefront of the mix, turning the vocal sounds of the guitar and drums into haptic ones by preventing any sustained, direct connection with them. There are some wordless human vocals as well, rising out of and blending back into the guitar periodically. The music taps into very common memories of being a sleepy passenger in a car, watching fuzzy lights through half-closed eyes.)

  • Reflection (while moving into next gallery): What happens now that the song is over? Does the feeling fade with the music, or do you hang on to it and carry it with you into the next gallery space and beyond?

How does it feel?

  • Gallery: Irena Moore Gallery

  • Work: “Chevreuse II” by Jean Paul Riopelle

  • Passage: “Riopelle used a palette knife to apply thick impasto paint, which is also blended wet-in-wet on the canvas. The entire surface is textured with linear ridges of paint, and sharp flecks and peaks of impasto indicative of gestural applications and movement of the palette knife. The significant wet-in-wet working suggests the painting may have been created fairly rapidly. Riopelle is known to have worked frequently on several paintings at once, and his paintings were often completed quickly, occasionally in a single day. The palette is dominated by bright colours and black and white. The surface quality of the painting varies, appearing more glossy and medium-rich.” (Source: Tate)

  • Activity: Shading over textures (rubbings)

  • Discussion: Can we replicate the texture felt with the eye in this work using a medium/technique other than the original one?

All samples on this page were included with permission obtained by participants prior to the Walkshop.