Concordia University: an Embodied Sensory Experience

Sensory Scrapbook: A (Mis)Guide to the SGW Campus by Cathleen Evans and Danica Pinteric

There is no fixed physical reality, no single perception of the world, just numerous ways of interpreting world views as dictated by one’s nervous system and the specific environment of our planetary existence”

-Deepak Chopra

In our (mis)guide to Concordia University, we attempt to reject and refute these traditional dualistic paradigms—the mind and the body, the map and its user—by curating an embodied sensory experience of our place of study. Inspired by the inventive tactics and theories of Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Elizabeth Grosz, and the Situationist International, we have created an interactive “sensory scrapbook” of the Sir George William campus, filled with pages of prompts, considerations, and re-purposed materials urging its user to not only see, but taste, touch, hear, and smell their campus in a different manner.

image1*the appropriation of a generic Concordia binder as a frame for the scrapbook was an intentional act of subtle détournement.*

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Aimed at drawing attention to how each embodied sense affects our perception and understanding of environment, our (mis)guide contains instructions for five different activities, each of which isolates one of the senses as a means for understanding conscious experience of public space (keeping in mind that sensory faculties vary between individuals). Ultimately, our sensory scrapbook urges its users to function under the motto of  “I do, therefore I am”—identifying not simply as bodily vessels moving through a pre-existing campus, but as embodiments of their own school; sensory beings rejecting a set scholarly and structural roadmap and pioneering their own unique state of being.

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We organized the senses by most “external” (vision, hearing) inward to the most personal, and “intimate” senses (smell and taste). The order in which the activities come is as follows:

Sense: Sight

Location: The EV Building

Activity: Navigate the main floor using only the reflections you see in a provided mirror.

Sense: Sound

Location: The McConnell Library Building

Activity: Transcribe an overheard conversation, and use your imagination to continue the dialogue with your group.

Sense: Touch

Location: The John Molson School of Business Building

Activity: Follow instructions to hunt down and catalogue specific textures on the first four floors of the MB.

Sense: Smell

Location: The Hall Building

Activity: Catalogue, Envision, and draw the smells you encounter on 7th floor of the Hall building.

Sense: Taste

Location: Le Frigo Vert

Activity: Create character biographies for different tastes that you encounter at Concordia’s not-for-profit food shop.

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One comment

  1. Cathleen and Danica’s Sensory Scrapbook was an extremely interesting way to experience the Sir George Williams Campus. By breaking down the scrapbook into the five senses, smell, touch, taste, hearing, and sight, Cathleen and Danica successfully break down the user’s sensorium. By relying on a single sense, the user becomes explicitly aware of the single sense they are instructed to use. Sometimes, this reliance on a single sense became uncomfortable or challenging. When using the mirror to explore the EV building, Garrett experienced disorientation, quite similar to vertigo. Evan, on the other hand, enjoyed the experience with the mirror, as he had never been able to see behind him while walking.
    evan

    Attempting to transcribe a conversation in the library using only our ears proved to be equally as challenging. We kept trying to look over at people talking, as if to connect how their lips were moving to what we were hearing; this Mis-Guide makes the user aware of how some senses heavily rely on others. Next, we used touch to explore the John Molson School of Business. We found plants, wooden desks, a hot surface (MacBook charger), and a soft cushion. Exploring the space through touch was something we had never put much thought into. This way of exploration was interesting, and almost liberating. Our next objective was to document the smells on the 7th floor of the Hall Building. After this, we were instructed to visit Frigo Vert, where we would explore using taste.

    The Sensory Scrapbook made us aware of how the senses are dependant on each other. I believe this would be a very interesting guide for new students attending Concordia, or citizens exploring new spaces in their city. The scrapbook was explained very well, and contained beautiful collages and other visual material. We may use this guide again, in a different space!

    Liked by 1 person

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