“Do not touch the artwork” is a warning you’ll never see at Sydney’s new art exhibition. If you want to experience the Snoösphere to it’s fullest, you are going to have to get interactive.
Inspired by Dutch stimulation and relaxation environments called ‘snoezelen’, Snoösphere is a futuristic sensory overload exhibit featured in The Big Anxiety Festival.
Snoezelen are relaxing spaces that aim to reduce agitation and anxiety by engaging and delighting the user. They were conceptualised in the 1970s and are used to treat autism, learning disabilities, mental health care, and dementia.
While there is not an abundance of hard science about the benefits, the interactive environments add to the quality of life for their users.
Snoösphere was developed by Lull Studios in consultation with autistic artists. One of whom was Dawn-Joy Leong, a Singaporean artist-researcher who has autism. In an interview with ABC, she explained that certain sensory experiences would trigger autistic audiences.
“We have dim lighting because when the lighting is too sharp, then it negatively impacts their senses. And it’s not conducive for mental functioning,” Leong said.
She also emphasised that Snoösphere is a groundbreaking combination of art and science that can be experienced through all the senses by everyone. Everything in the exhibition can be touched and rewards creativity with intelligent responses. The autistic artists’ collective insight into hypersensitivity is brilliantly transformed into the playful, sensory experience.
The Big Anxiety Festival is a festival that reimagines that state of mental health and celebrates experiences that are not otherwise expressed in everyday language. It currently features a collection of exhibits presented as awkward conversations, lived experiences, mood experiments, and more.
Snoösphere can be seen at the UNSW Galleries in Paddington every day from 10 am to 5 pm, until it finishes its run on the 11th of November.