Palate: A Sound & Taste Experiment

What does your food really taste like?

If your tastebuds made noise while you were eating, what sound would that make? 

What foods naturally attract and/or avert you?

Most people find food consumption to be a generally expensive yet unavoidable activity. We dread the seemingly unending cycle of cooking, eating, cleaning, and doing it all over again for the next meal – which, if you’re like me, will take place in just a few hours. But if eating is such an essential part of life, why are we not taking more time to enjoy it, experience it fully, and learn from it?

As a community artist, I am facilitating a collaborative artwork that is part of a group exhibition titled Extrasensory. Five artists were chosen by the Frist Center for Visual Arts in Nashville, and each artist proposed a community artwork that incorporated one or more of the five senses. I am particularly interested in the relationship that we have with our food, both as individuals and as a society, so naturally I felt inclined to explore the sensory system of taste.

My project is titled Palate, and it will consist of an installation of clay bowls arranged on the wall in the shape of a tongue. There will be audio to accompany the ceramic tongue, projecting a symphony of sounds recorded during a blind taste-test with community members responding to different foods with exaggerated noises, words, and memories.

photo via @mariaborghoff

photo via @mariaborghoff

photo via @mariaborghoff

My goal is to create a visual and audio representation for the sensation of taste, because most people in our culture have a distorted relationship with the act of eating. The reason why we are so disconnected from the way we perceive taste and the way we communicate our feelings is almost irrelevant.

I am not interested in digging into the social and economic dynamics that have created a world that consists of starvation, eating disorders, and inconceivable amounts of food waste. I am interested in reconnecting with the act of eating…

To make it more enjoyable, despite the initial unpleasant smell or foreign taste.

To make the experience last longer, despite the quantity of food we are ingesting.

To make the act of perception through taste another lens through which we filter our experience, another gateway for learning about ourselves and the world around us.

Because if we are going to do something three times a day (or more) then we might as well figure out a way for that activity to be both pleasurable and beneficial.

I mean, for goodness sakes – why wouldn’t you have your cake and eat it, too?!

If you’d like to participate in the ongoing Palate project at the Frist Center, please contact me at or get in touch about hosting a collaborative art project with your community.

by Maria Borghoff