5 Senses

Taste

Although cats are often attracted to human food, they don’t actually have the ability to taste sweet things. Being carnivores, cats don’t actually need to actively eat sugar or carbohydrates because their bodies don’t need it as much. They have evolved to be dependent on meat and are only attracted to some human food due to the high fat content. So basically, if cats ate a big sweet piece of human food, it would only taste bitter to them as they literally don’t have the taste buds to experience anything different. Obviously, cats much like humans aren’t usually fond of an intensely bitter taste which is why they tend to avoid sweet foods.

For my project I looked up all sorts of bitter foods but it was hard to find one that we see as sweet. Thinking of coffee for example, if you drink it and realize it is bitter it is no shock and no different how we would normally taste it. That’s when I came across the chocolate and the different cocoa concentrations. We can experience a cats sensation easier by using this chocolate as an example. Obviously chocolate is poisonous to cats but for us its a rather sweet treat. Cocoa however is a very bitter taste without the sugar and milk so the darker the chocolate the more bitter it gets. When eating 99% dark chocolate, we get to experience how average milk chocolate might be if we had the taste sensors of a cat. This bitter sensation is even further emphasized if eaten right after something very sweet like milk chocolate itself. In this way it is a food we are accustomed to being very sweet, being turned around when contrasted with a very bitter comparison.

Smell

As humans, our sense of smell is rather limited in comparison to many animals. If I open a banana in the same room as you, you can probably smell it right away, but without sight, you can’t actually locate where it is coming from. For this project Liwen and I wanted to visualize smell itself, so we can understand how smell might be like from a visual perspective. We used both colour from the light and smoke from the smoke machine to show smell and how it fills the room.

Bananas

Although not the inspiration for this project, we also looked into different animals that could locate specific smells as accurately as we could see the smoke. Both dogs and mice have the ability to locate specific smells and separate them from any others in the same area. This is just an amplified version of how people can recognize specific scents in their food, guessing ingredients.

Even with their intense sense of smell, mice are not perfect and can also be deceived. Much like our sight actually, the more similar smells in the air, (or the more smoke and coloured light) the harder it gets to differentiate them. Here are some experiments done in regards to mice’s incredible but limited sense of smell.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140803193754.htm

For this piece we were trying to think of ways something could spread around the room like smell. Laser pointers bounced like sound or light could and anything we could build really wouldn’t fill the room the same way so we landed on using smoke and light.

As you can see in our photos, both the fog and the light spread much like smell does. It gets more dense nearer to the object and fades as it goes farther. Even with this spreading and thinning both the light and the smoke fill the entire room giving it an atmosphere and therefore showing a little more like how smell would seem.

Touch

Chameleons have an amazing velcro like grip helping them hold on to anything in their surroundings. Designed for climbing and perching on plants these grabby hands are able to stick to virtually anything. But How?

Unlike geckos, which stick to things using a natural adhesive, chameleons depend on  tiny rough hairs on their bottoms of their hands, feet and tails. These tiny hairs help them cling to things by splaying in different directions and causing enough friction to keep them on their perch. These intensely grippy hands and their ability to lift their own body weight, make climbing almost anywhere a breeze.

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When reading this post on chameleon skin and seeing this photo, the first thing I thought of was velcro.

https://www.ucalgary.ca/utoday/issue/2013-11-25/chameleons-grip-opens-window-evolution-adhesive-properties-lizard-skin

 

 

 

Through the use of velcro, we could also experience what it would be like to climb like a chameleon. Many of us can’t lift our own bodyweight and we would need a lot more surface area because velcro is not as strong as the chameleon’s grip, but technically we could still imitate it.

For my unrealized project, I had the idea to build a jungle gym like structure covered completely in the soft side of velcro. The more clingy, rough side would be attached to our hands forearms and lower legs, giving us enough grip to climb around the whole place without the use of ladders or stairs, much like chameleon does on plants and trees.

Sound

Bats have small eyes and weak vision therefore making it hard for them to be dependant on their sight. So how is it that they are able to get around so easily in the dark?

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Bats use their echolocation, forage and hunt in their immediate surroundings. Echolocation is the ability to emit a low frequency sound which bounces off objects letting bats know how close they are to the objects around them.

Although their echolocation may be great for hunting, not having well developed vision has its downsides. This article talks about how reflective man made surfaces affect bats echolocation as it is reflected off in another direction instead of back at them

https://www.theverge.com/2017/9/8/16273908/bats-echolocation-buildings-crashes

In order to experience what it is like to be a bat, we must be immersed in the dark. Bats, as constantly moving creatures have to be able to avoid the many obstacles around them in such conditions. I thought of imitating this scenario by using the grey room for my unrealized project. I would fill this dark room with many different speakers that make noise when you go closer to them. Much like the assisted parking sounds that beep when you are backing up to close to something. This would make you aware of how a bat would sense objects around them in the dark using their echolocation. It would help us to detect the specific location of sounds, without using our sight, and receive loud or soft signals much like the bat would in order to “see” how close you are to your surroundings.

 

Sight

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Left Eye

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Right Eye

Unlike people, chameleons are able to move each of their eyes independently from the other. They are able to see all around them as their rotating eyes give them almost 360˚ vision. They see the world in a split screen view due to their ability to see in two directions at once and are always using this to observe what is around them. However, chameleons have the ability to transition between monocular and binocular vision. This means they can look all around when viewing their surroundings but once they focus onto prey they lock both eyes onto it for greater focus.

 

As humans can’t experience the sensation of viewing all around us without moving our heads themselves. The panorama is a glimpse into how much a chameleon can see, but chameleons, much like us, can’t see a whole panoramic view at once. Although their eyes can surroundings with freely, they still have a limited range of vision in a stationary point. This is where I decided to turn to technology. Using one phone as each eye I was able to make these two screens extensions of our bodies as new eyes. Each phone surroundings with view 180˚ and can be moved to see surroundings with our bodies remaining stationary therefore giving us the ability to view the world much like a chameleon.

 

Chameleon