Interview with Mark Daniels
Mark Daniels is the Executive Director of New Media Scotland. He implemented several projects around taste, sound and vision before.
Initially chosen projects for this interview where the following:
- 2014: Late Lab | The Taste of Blue (Snesthesia, Multi Media)
- 2014: Gastro Lab | RGB Cocktail Party (Effects of light & colour)
- 2015: Late Lab | Gastro Lab (Cocktails with greater intensity and variety of flavours)
- 2017: Unbound | The Art of Neuroscience (words, music, aroma)
Mentioning synesthesia as one of my research areas and defining my current state in this area as ‘dead end’ he supported my conclusion with his experiences in this area and stated synesthesia as ‘unpredictable and difficult to replicate or transfer’.
Therefore, and after explaining the details of my project Daniels recommended me to research his work in ‘Expanded Cinema’: multisensory experience for guests using food, drink and/or smell.
Further he recommended me to look up the work of Jelly & Gin with their event in collaboration with Haig Club whisky where they created a sensory experience combining, colour, music, smell and additionally included whisky pairings: https://foodanddrink.scotsman.com/general/enjoy-an-unforgettable-edible-adventure-with-create-eat-whisky-2015/
‘Don’t restrict yourself to just digital because otherwise it will be just sound and vision.’
Daniels was interested if I plan to visualise the swirling of a whisky in the glass releasing aromas. Up to this point I definitely plan to react to tilting and moving of the glass. I also want to include a reaction to swirling of the glass, however, for now am not able to say if this will be possible with the sensor I am planning to use.
Another interesting project Daniels mentioned was created for the island St. Kilda. A lonely island north of Scotland which is not very approachable but desirable for people to visit: Due to the the fact that the island has been already scanned with Point Cloud Data they were able to use these scans and project them onto a fog pool created with a tank of water and ultrasonic atomisers in the water. The movement of fog created an illusion of 3 dimensionality of the projected images. They additionally recreated the aroma of the island where they were faced with the different timespans of different aromas causing light notes such as citrus or grass to diminish faster while the base notes such as woody or mossy remained.
Looking at this project a projection onto nebulous material – e.g. a veil of fog in my booth – could create a subtle but effective (immersive) illusion for my project.
‘When people don’t expect certain technologies to be used to deploy graphic, particular in an intimate setting, it becomes pure theatre for them and it start to make the brain think differently about the taste, the sound etc. So little ways in rather than being bombastic, easing people in.
… Sprinkling of technology. It’s not about the big show, it’s about subtlety. And that seduces people. The cumulative sensory effect which is much more to do than the taste. It is actually storyboarding. I encourage people to create a storyboard and make sure you can dial down the effect.’
After looking at the bottle design of the Glenfiddich Project XX I am planning to use for my project he was interested whether I plan to use the fingerprint in my designs.
He recommended me to do so as it would also be interesting to use the fingerprint in my designs from a visual perspective. Especially considering the landscape that is within a fingerprint. Looking at ways we automatically associate the Scottish landscape with whisky (‘because whisky exists because Scotland exists’) which has a character we can associate with the actual contours of a fingerprint.
Daniels asked further relevant questions regarding my project, such as if I will encourage interaction e.g. with sniffing sounds to smell the whisky. Encouragement is key in my project. However, I want to try to create more abstract and subtle encouragements, preferably with visual effects. Nonetheless, I still have to keep in mind that ‘sometimes people need a little bit of help’.
Talking about VR dining experiences later research showed that experiences actually including the food in VR are currently quite rare and experimental. One concept including real food in VR was presented at a cruise fair showing the possibilities of new technologies:
When I mentioned my plan to allow people to walk around in the booth Daniels stated his concerns. He would worry about people getting up and walking around, particularly when people got alcoholic drinks in glasses.
This also reminded me that people will be attached to the VR cables and therefore restricted in their movement.
To conclude this interview Daniels stated one final advice for my project:
‘It’s more impactful the more restrained you are.’