“How many sense do we have? And of how many are we aware?”
– Suzanne Whitby
About Sensory Signals
Sensory Signals is the research website of Suzanne Whitby, who studies the messages that we receive from our surroundings from our senses, and in particular, those that are communicated without sight.
Suzanne leads multi-sensory walks that invite walkers to experience familiar (and unfamiliar) spaces in new ways through smell, sound, and touch, and very occasionally, through taste and sight, too. These walks allow her to real-life experiential data from individuals and over time, allow her to map this data and sort it by place, time, and groups of people.
Suzanne came to sensory studies whilst developing a research question for her MA in the classics. An amateur “nose” with an interest in scent, she started asking herself the question “what did the ancient world smell like”, and whether she could model smells using 3D models, abstract representations, and maps, and this then led her to the vibrant world of studies into the senses. Although smell is her first love, she quickly realised that isolating senses is a challenge, and decided to embrace, rather than fight, the experience.
Her multi-sensory journey led her to the work of David Howes, Constance Classen, Eleanor Betts, and a plethora of others (along with the discovery that her ideas of walking and modelling smells was not original in the least – in 1790, Jean-Noël Hallé went out for a smell walk on the banks of the Seine and nearly didn’t make it back, and as for mapping and cartographical visualisations, the field is wide open – such is the nature of research!)