Taste-ivision Is Almost Here

Scientists just might deliver on the promise of taste-ivision in the near future, according to Chris Gayomali's recent report, "This electric lollipop can simulate any taste" in The Week.

Quick Summary

A National University of Singapore team led by Nimesha Ranasinghe, Gayomali reports, have " harnessed an alternating current to induce salty, sweet, bitter, and sour flavors." They hope to soon develop a "digital lollipop" that will will be able to deliver the flavors in a more compact and potentially marketable form.


Oddly, in most of the talk about the future of virtual realtiy, taste and smell are almost never mentioned. We seem satisfied to dream of a dreamworld that only engages two of our five senses. (Touch also seems to lag behind.) Is this because we are primarily visual and auditory, or is it because these are merely the two most easily reproduced senses? Or, is it the fact they're more easily reproduced that has made these our primary senses?

Imagine if the history of art were filled with scent creations, tactile sculptures, and--well--food? Would we relate differently to those senses if we manipulated them as regularly? OK, every meal is a chance to manipulate the tastebuds, but it's done with real objects in real time. It would be like painting by arranging real objects in someone's field of view. There's something different about creating a simulacrum that appeals to these senses--outside of reality and outside of time.

Taste, like scent and touch, has always lagged behind sight and hearing in this realm. But a breakthrough like this could be a game-changer. If we are able to carve an art based on creating taste-likenesses, how might that art evolve? Imagine taste artists moving though impressionism, cubism, etc.

All of it leaves me wondering, What does abstract art taste like?

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