Echo Location and Multisensory Interventions

Echo location and multisensory interactions

23 November 2022

Led by:

  • Britt Hatzius
  • Thomas Tajo
Intended learning outcomes (more on programme level):

Part of Marres’ Workshops ‘Training the Senses’.

Learning objectives (course specific):

Visual information has a lot to offer but so does the information offered by other senses, such as touch and hearing. Training your sense of touch makes you able to differentiate between minor differences in the things that you’re touching, while training your hearing can give you the ability to tell how large the room is that you’re in or how far the wall is from you without using your eyes.

Objective statement:

In this two-hour workshop, both sighted and non-sighted participants are invited to join us in an exploration of our non-visual senses. It will include an introduction to Echolocation (or Click Sonar), but more broadly consider how we collectively experience both each other and the spatial environment through our auditory and tactile senses. The idea is to try and articulate what these experiences ‘feel like’, what they ‘do’ to us or what they might trigger in us individually. Through exercises and intuitive explorations, we might discover potentially under-used or underdeveloped sensorial skills for use in our everyday lives.

Type of course:

extracurricular course

Target group:

general audience

Teaching method:




  • After a round of introductions of the leaders and the participants, Thomas Tajo asked three random participants to come up to him and let him hold and feel their hands. After this was done, he asked the same three to come up to him in a random order and he would guess just by touching their hands, which of the three it was. This was demonstrated without fail. Afterwards, all of the participants were asked to form groups of 3 or 4 and to try to repeat what was done by Thomas. First the participants offered their hands to each other and then they closed their eyes and were randomly approached by their group members and had to guess which member it was only through touch.
  • Upon the reflection of the exercise, the participants mentioned how they paid attention to the body temperature of the hands, the little details in the groves of the hands and the skin, whether someone was wearing rings, whether their hands were clammy or dry, the length of the fingers, etc.


  • A participant was asked to volunteer. They sat on a chair and were asked to make a shushing sound. Then they were asked to do it again, but this time a bowl was held up in front of their face. After that, they were instructed to close their eyes and do the shushing again and try to guess if a bowl was in front of them or not. The same was repeated with a notebook. And then both the bowl and the notebook were used around the face, and they had to guess where either of the item was. After this demonstration, the participants were asked to pair up and repeat this exercise, focusing on how the shushing sound travelled differently in a bowl as opposed to in a notebook or into empty space. Some participants also used a plate in this exercise. The participants reflected how the bowl made a more hollowed out sound, as if the sound they were making was doing a circle in the bowl, while with a notebook the sound travelled straight and then to the sides. It was also pointed out how you could roughly tell what material the item was – the steel of the bowl sounded different from textile of the notebook, but this was harder to do with the plate, which sounded similar to steel, but was lacking the rounded sound of the bowl. Some participants also mentioned how it felt as if their ears were fatigued after a few minutes of doing the exercise.
  • Thomas introduced the concept of the Click Sonar, or Echolocation, which consists of making a clicking sound with one’s mouth and trying to hear if anything is in front of them. Thomas, being blind, had trained this skill over the years, becoming so accurate as to easily tell if there was, indeed, something in front of him. The participants were asked to close their eyes and walk around the room, making a clicking or shushing sound and trying to discern if they were moving close towards a wall and trying to hear when it was time to stop before colliding with the wall. People had noticeably harder time with this exercise than the previous one.
  • Participants were asked to put on blindfolds and form up in a chain, placing a hand on the shoulder of the person in front of them. The leader of the chain, Britt, walked the participants around the room, into other rooms, asking the participants to try to relax and follow her lead. At moments everyone was asked to stop, make clicking or shushing sounds, and listen to the sounds of the space they were in. It is useful to mention that this specific Training the Senses event was held in the exhibition spaces of Marres itself. People reflected that sometimes the sounds in different spaces sounded different, indicating the size of the room, or the closeness of the wall. Eventually the participants were led down the stairs, through the exhibition space and finally outside, where they again stopped to listen to the differences in sound from the other locations they were in previously.
  • The last demonstration involved Thomas showing how hearing and Echolocation could be trained to detect even the shape differences between alcoves in the street, or whether a bicycle is in front of you or how high are the stairs. Finally, the participants were led into an alley where it was demonstrated how sound travelled differently in spaces, how if the space was free, and a clapping sound was made, it would sound much louder and more defined, as opposed to how it would sound if the space was filled with people who were all close to the person clapping. Thomas once more showed his precision in Echolocation by pointing out how he could tell from the way the sounds were bouncing off of the surrounding buildings, where there was a fence or where there was a break in buildings or how far and big these buildings were.
Assessment of learning:




Additional biblio sources (available at Marres):