At the Future Everything Festival, Manchester, UK  May 11-14 2011




An initial study of the 5 cocktails was undertaken in Los Angeles on April 9.  Respondents were asked to write  synesthetic impressions, such as colour, texture, shape and movement, of the 5 Absolut cocktails designed by Absolut supertaster Bex Almqvist. 

Without going into too much detail here, it was interesting to note various coincidental responses : for instance, the four test subjects’ responses to whether there was a feeling of movement in the Club cocktail were: whirlpool, underwater, downwards and a rock rolling gently down a slope. The downwards sense of the movement in the cocktail perhaps answers to the particular lingering finish.

The study of taste seems to fit into the cultural zeitgeist, following on the heels of such chemist/chefs as the Adria Brothers of el Bulli fame.


The visuals respond to meditative vs attention oriented brain wave states. Some tastes arouse intense awareness, whereas others send one into a kind of meditative, soothing reverie.

Patterns that move quickly and are more densely packed represent the attentive, focused state, whereas patterns that move more slowly and less densely packed represent the meditative response.

The visual patterns used in this project have been developed and adapted by Claude Heiland-Allen and are based on his investigations into reaction-diffusion systems.  Although this system is derived through mathematical equations, it seems to replicate the basis of many living systems.

For our purposes, this transposition of brain wave states through an algorithmic system similar to cellular automata that modify through repeated iterations brings the data to life, reflecting how the taste of each substance in the mouth evolves over time, such as described by ‘mouthfeel’, ‘long finish’,’midpalate’, as well as olfactory notes, temperature  sensations and other sensory gradients.   

Further thoughts (Sept 12 2011):

It looks like Jazzy Jeff (one of the 2  linux computers used at the event) had quite a vivid time of it:  http://claudiusmaximus.goto10.org/g/flavourcollider/part-1/

The patterns are quite amazing.  It would be great to print them out on a large scale and fill up a huge space wall to wall in which visitors could immerse themselves: have consciousness reflected back at itself.

Other than their own links to cellular automata and correspondences based in mathematical algorithms, I meant to say that the patterns remind me visually of Huichol Yarn paintings, in which the Huichol cosmology, inspired by peyote, is represented  through brightly coloured  filaments. The patterns and dots with their brightly nested filaments seem to have quite similar visual links to these reaction-diffusion patterns.  The Huichol cosmology is centered around filaments of differing lengths.  Strings are used in daily life, such as to record stories as knots along a piece of string on the peyote pilgrimages to Wirikuta, or for the Huichol male to feel childbirth pain, such as in the Huichol Inidan birthing ritual in which the mother pulls on strings attached to the testicles of her husband. http://greensboring.com/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=5813   

The Huichol pyschotropically inspired yarn paintings are a reflection of mental processes, similar to those described by  Aldous Huxley in his book Doors of Perception. From Wikipedia:

'By 12.30, a vase of flowers becomes the "miracle, moment by moment, of naked existence". The experience, he asserts, is neither agreeable nor disagreeable, but simply "is". He likens it to Meister Eckhart’s ‘istigheit’ or ‘is-ness’, and Plato’s ‘Being’ but not separated from ‘Becoming’. He feels he understands the Hindu concept of Satchitananda, as well as the Zen koan that ‘the dharma body of the Buddha is in the hedge’ and Buddhist suchness. In this state, Huxley explains he didn’t have an ‘I’, but instead a ‘not-I’. Meaning and existence, pattern and colour become more significant than spatial relationships and time. Duration is replaced by a perpetual present.'  

There also seems to be a relationship to other indigenous art forms such as the Aboriginal Ground Paintings, that later became more commercial 'dot paintings' upon the insistence of elders to disguise the sacred imagery within the paintings.  Whether or not these visual correspondences are just coincidences, one can't help feeling that our 21st century attempt at mirroring the processes of mind and its emotions seems to find a certain resonance with older cultures that have placed visionary experience at the center of their cosmologies. 


UK: Claude Heiland-AllenXname, Bruno Zamborlin,  Antonios Galanopoulos, Matt Davenport

LOS ANGELES :  Heather Poon, Paul Street  Tasters:  Travis Shakespeare, Garen der Gregorian, Helena der Gregorian

sponosred by Absolut




































more photos:





discovery of a  taste ‘synner’ at the FlavourCollider

The reaction of the brain to the taste of different drinks is picked up through the Neurosky  Mindwave headset that reads EEG signals. These signals are translated into visuals in real-time on flat screen monitors. This is an experiment to externalise and share taste-emotion impressions.