27. June 2022

Why Do We Like What We Like?

Exhibition area of the special exhibition "A Matter of Taste" at the experimenta

"A Matter of Taste" will be on display at the experimenta science center in Heilbronn from June 27, 2022 to January 8, 2023. (Picture: experimenta)

Why do people have particular tastes—in food, fashion, or love, for example—and how do tastes differ? The Heilbronn science center experimenta tackles this thorny question in the special exhibition A Matter of Taste (Geschmacksfragen), which was developed in-house in cooperation with the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics (MPIEA). From June 27, 2022 to January 8, 2023, visitors can explore their own tastes and gain a new perspective on the many aesthetic choices they make every day.

Designed to resemble a brightly colored shopping mall, this special exhibition takes visitors on a tour of discovery in five areas: food, music, dwelling, love, and fashion. At different thematic interactive stations, they are presented with a choice: What tastes good to me and what does not? Do I prefer furniture because of its design or its functionality? Which ideals of beauty do I share? Which of these voices do I find attractive? Visitors are not only invited to share aesthetic preferences, however, but to engage their own creativity: They can, for example, design their own pair of sport shoes in the fashion section; and in the music section, they can compose a dance track and dance to it.

As visitors move through the stations of the exhibition, their individual profiles become increasingly refined, providing insights into their taste patterns, or aesthetic constitutions. Through this encounter, the visitor learns new things about him- or herself, for instance, how unique their own tastes are, and how they match or differ from those of others. At the end of the exhibition, visitors receive a summary of their choices with their own personal taste profile.

Those who wish to can also make their choices and the resulting profile available for research. Scientists can use the anonymized visitor data to discover more about the phenomenon of taste from a scientific perspective. In addition to the MPIEA, researchers from Heilbronn University and the University of Wuppertal are collaborating with experimenta on this special exhibition.

By means of the data they collect, the researchers hope to learn which factors and aspects influence individual taste formation. Everyone can get involved, not only by visiting the exhibition, but also by using the specially developed Unite in Taste app, which while drawing on the themes of the exhibition, can be used independently of it as well.

A Matter of Taste will be on display at the experimenta science center in Heilbronn from June 27, 2022 to January 8, 2023. experimenta is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and on weekends and holidays from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The special exhibition is included in the experimenta admission price (adults 12 euros, reduced 6 euros), but stand-alone tickets for A Matter of Taste can also be purchased at the ticket office (adults 7 euros, reduced 4 euros).

You can find more information about the exhibition here.

Melanie Wald-Fuhrmann