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John Wood and Paul Harrison, installation view from ‘I DIDN’T KNOW I DIDN’T KNOW IT’, Contemporary Art Gallery, February 12 – April 24, 2016. Photography by SITE Photography


Smellscape

This week the class embarked on the first of their olfactory adventures, a sense that goes hand-in-hand with the development of their soda.

Hannah and Helen introduced the class to some research that they have done around smell and memory. The two presented their experience of visiting Sissel Tolaas, an internationally renowned Berlin based artist and researcher with a background in chemistry, art, linguistics, mathematics, languages and art.

Sissel has had her scent concoctions and research commissioned and presented by museums such as MOMA and institutions such as NASA. She has also addressed concerns around the subject of smell systems such as histories and anthropology. She questions the way in which the modern West has been conditioned to react and assess smell in purely aesthetic terms, does it smell good or does it smell bad? How can we describe smell? Why does smell seem to trigger memories of people, places or things?

Taking these questions into consideration, Hannah, Helen and Ms. Persoon divided the class into 5 groups to go on a smell walk throughout their school grounds. Paying close attention their olfactory surroundings, the class smelled things they usually wouldn’t seek to sniff: cars, cement, doors, etc. The class plotted their findings on a scent map designed by Helen and Hannah and shared their experiences at the end of class. Instead of designated scents as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, the class discussed personal scent memories through allegory, visual connotations and of course, taste!