Last night my middle son and I had a weird thought together. We were eating chocolate at the time. That thought is: it is not possible to be either repulsed or find pleasure in something with all the senses. We thought that most things could affect up to four of the senses, but not all five. We started off by considering chocolate.

Chocolate smells nice, it feels nice, it tastes nice, it looks nice, but it doesn’t sound nice, does it?

Does this sound good?

Does this sound good?

We then thought about music. Music sounds good, it can look good (or the people singing the music can look good), it feels good (the vibrations), perhaps it can even smell good (that intoxicating smell of steam, aftershave, perfume, and beer that I associate with a good concert) but it can’t taste good (syneasethics need not respond).

This lead us to think of things we find abject or repulsive and how our senses respond. My son came up with poo. Indeed, poo smells bad, we both imagined it would taste pretty bad too. I told him that it felt nasty as well (having had some experience of being pooed on by said child). It isn’t the most pleasant thing to look at (especially that poo that comes out of animal bottoms and onto the streets of Shrewsbury). But can it sound bad? I don’t find the sound of a poo plopping too unpleasant. My son argued, however, that ‘poorly poo’ doesn’t sound good. We decided then that vomit fitted the ‘repulsive to all the senses’ category even better. Yes, indeed, the sound, smell, taste, feel and sight of vomit is bad.

Look up 'poo' in google images and you will be amazed at what comes up

Look up ‘poo’ in google images and you will be amazed at what comes up

So we found two things that repulse all the senses. We couldn’t, however, think of anything that was pleasurable to all the senses.

Perhaps there is something nice that makes a pleasant sound as it cooks: bacon. But does bacon feel good? I’m not sure I enjoy holding a piece of bacon.

Do you like to hold this?

Do you like to hold this?

However, I like the idea that you can experience something with all the senses and it can either be completely pleasurable or completely repulsive. This is something I’d like to think about further for my future art projects since I am interested in the idea of people relating to art through senses other than sight. Other artists also have considered this, such as Ernesto Neto with his smelly installations and Rosalyn Driscoll and her flaky, ethereal sculptures.

Netto's smelly art

Neto’s smelly art

in the meantime, I will see if i can come up with something that is five-ways pleasurable. Watch this space.