STORYTELLING PORTFOLIO > Topographies of Scent

Participatory scent mapping.

As science discovers the links between olfaction and color (and color = light), artistic exploration of olfaction grows more interesting.

In this project, scent mapping represents light mapping. Light travels as a wave while aroma travels as a particle, but we perceive them similarly: distance < diffusion while proximity > concentration/brightness. Natural variations in olfactory acuity are similar to variations in visual acuity; particles of scent “bounce” off buildings and obstacles, just as light can; and our brains often inexplicably link scent with color, and scent with memory and emotion.

10 glass jars hold scents in carrier oils, mounted around the courtyard on the surrounding walls and buildings, all arranged so ample “negative olfactory space” existed between any two scents. Visitors were offered cards and markers to write, draw a reaction to, and map their olfactory experience.