Provoking Taste: Experimenting With New Ways of Sensing

Voss, Jan Peter; Guggenheim, Michael; Rigamonti, Nora; Haulsen, Aline and Söding, Max. 2023. Provoking Taste: Experimenting With New Ways of Sensing. In: Jan Peter Voss; Nora Rigamonti; Marcela Suárez and Jacob Watson, eds. Sensing Collectives: Aesthetic and Political Practices Intertwined. Bielefeld, Germany: transcript Verlag, pp. 199-218. ISBN 9783837657456 [Book Section]

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Abstract or Description

A man sits at a table in a museum and tastes something he has never seen before. He is not sure what it is, but he is prompted to taste orange-red jelly-like cubes—and to do so as if it were an honor to eat such a thing. He hesitates, he looks at it, then, he closes his eyes and slowly takes a bite. He writes down some notes. He takes another bite. He reads along in a document, where he is told to taste again, but this time as if he were ashamed. After completing a series of other, similar experiments, he creates a new dish from the ingredients assembled in front of him, and writes down a title for the dish in his tasting notes. This is the setting of an exhibition called “Schmeck!” (German for “taste!”), that we set up in autumn 2020 at the Museum of Natural History (MfN) in Berlin.1 Why did we create an exhibition in which we asked people to taste unknown foods as if they were honored or ashamed? We sought to first explore how taste changes in relation with various elements of the eating situation (such as sounds, previous knowledge about ingredients and expectations) and, secondly, to use these experiences to provoke participants to create new tasting practices and dishes. In the introduction to this volume, the editors develop the notion of “sensing collectives” to study the intertwining of aesthetic and political practices. In this chapter, we discuss the exhibition as a case of engaging visitors in experiments that were at the same time aesthetic (i.e. inducing and shaping sensory perceptions) as well as political (i.e. inducing and shaping collective subjectivity).

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Book Section

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This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 (BY) license, which means that the text may be remixed, transformed and built upon and be copied and redistributed in any medium or format even commercially, provided credit is given to the author.


Food, Taste, Experiment, STS, Sociology, Eating, Exhibition

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Sociology > Centre for Invention and Social Process (CISP) [2016-]
Sociology > Kitchen Research Unit


October 2022Accepted
21 April 2023Published

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Date Deposited:

21 Dec 2023 14:38

Last Modified:

27 Feb 2024 16:12


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