Tag Archives | Smell

The Failed Smell Concert Of Sadakichi Hartmann

sadakichiMovies and music are filled with sight and sound, but when will humanity master the expressive and exploratory power of the other senses? The Believer on an ill-fated pre-Surrealist attempt to transport a theater full of people to Japan via a series of perfumes projected by fan:

In the fall of 1902, when he was around thirty-five years old, the papers announced that Mr. Sadakichi Hartmann, the eccentric art critic, would present a short performance entitled “A Trip to Japan in Sixteen Minutes.” The piece was described as a “melody in odors.”

The turn of the twentieth century saw a flurry of sense experimentation. The color organ was patented in 1895, an instrument with colored panels that lit up and changed in time to music. A few years later, one of the first electric organs, the Telharmonium, would have its debut in a specially built concert hall in New York.

The perfume concert was the featured event on a bill of a casual Sunday pop, held at the enormous entertainment complex known as the New York Theatre.

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A Smell Camera To Record Aromas For Posterity

scent cameraIn a project titled Scent-ography: a post-visual past time, designer Amy Radcliffe has created the MADELEINE, a device which records an odor’s molecular information. Rendered a formula, the unique smell can be subsequently recreated in a laboratory setting:

Our sense of smell is believed to have a direct link to our emotional memory. It is the sense that we react to most instinctually and also the furthest away from being stored or replicated digitally.

The Madeleine is, to all intents and purposes, an analogue odour camera. Based on current perfumery technology, Headspace Capture, The Madeleine works in much the same way as a 35mm camera. Just as the camera records the light information of a visual in order to create a replica The Madeleine records the molecular information of a smell.

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The Quantum Theory Of Smell

Do quantum vibrations determine how things smell? Are our noses detecting the secrets of the universe without our knowing? Via the BBC, the realm of the senses grows stranger:

A controversial theory that the way we smell involves a quantum physics effect has received a boost, following experiments with human subjects. It challenges the notion that our sense of smell depends only on the shapes of molecules we sniff in the air. Instead, it suggests that the molecules’ vibrations are responsible.

Molecules can be viewed as a collection of atoms on springs, so the atoms can move relative to one another. Energy of just the right frequency – a quantum – can cause the “springs” to vibrate, and in a 1996 paper [the theory's creator] Dr. Lucia Turin said it was these vibrations that explained smell.

A way to test it is with two molecules of the same shape, but with different vibrations.

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Researchers Develop ‘White Noise’ Smell

Ever wondered what the smell of the universe was? Yahoo! News reports on the creation of a scent that is a scientific attempt to combine all others:

Mixing multiple wavelengths that span the human visual range equally makes white light; mixing multiple frequencies that span the range of human hearing equally makes the whooshing hum of white noise. Neurobiologist Noam Sobel from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel and his colleagues wanted to find out whether a similar phenomenon happens with smelling.

The smell is dubbed “olfactory white,” because it is the nasal equivalent of white noise, researchers report today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. What does olfactory white smell like? Unfortunately, the scent is so bland as to defy description. Participants rated it right in the middle of the scale for both pleasantness and edibility. “The best way to appreciate the qualities of olfactory white is to smell it,” the researchers wrote.

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How Advertisers Manipulate Us Through Scent And Sound

If you’ve witnessed the fetishization of “new Apple smell”, this makes perfect sense. Via the BBC:

In public spaces all over the world, companies are gunning for consumers’ attention, intruding through their ears, nose and eyes, constantly assaulting them with sounds, smells and visual props.

All the senses can be manipulated to attempt to alter consumer mood and perception. Some 83% of marketing budgets are focused on the eyes, according to Martin Lindstrom’s book Brand Sense. Stimulate two senses and the brand impact increases by 30%, rising to 70% when a third is added.

The way companies use smell and sound in addition to visual tools such as advertising posters is not obvious. The sense of smell, “has a direct connection to the emotional brain, unlike the other senses”, according to Andreas Keller, research associate at The Rockefeller University. “Evolutionarily, the emotions elicited by smells are disgust and fear – and whatever the opposites of these emotions are – and social or sexual emotions.

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Tears Of Sadness As Chemical Weapons

London-based artist Angela Rose Bracco‘s work If You can Smell it, it has Mass grapples with the power of scents and substances in our environs to influence us. She imagines a future in which women’s tears (the smell of which suppresses males’ heart rates and testosterone levels) are mass produced and used for social engineering:

Science shows us, humans are responsive to chemical signals like other members of the mammalian species. One clinical trial applied the emotional tears of women to the upper lip of men. These men experienced a decrease in testosterone levels without visually witnessing the act of crying.

Accepting this as truth concludes that in our everyday lives we are constantly receiving information on an invisible and olfactory basis. Is it possible in the near present future to mass-produce chemosignals that can be used to decrease aggression in humanity?

If You can Smell it, it has Mass is an installation of a future clinic for the production and testing of emotional tears.

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On Romantic Matchmaking By Smell

1924-smell-test-smPossibly superior to online dating? Via Paleofuture, on when the new romance rage was organizing marriage by odor:

Dating sites claim they can find you the perfect match by using algorithms. This idea–wanting to make the frustrating world of romantic love into something quantifiable–is nothing new. The April 1924 issue of Science and Invention magazine ran an article by Hugo Gernsback, the magazine’s publisher, which examined the “scientific” ways to determine if a marriage will succeed or fail.

Gernsback claims that more marriages are probably wrecked by body odors than any other cause. During the body odor test, the couple is made to smell each other (“not a pleasant experience,” Gernsback opines) by one person being placed inside a large capsule with a hose coming out the top. The hose is led to the nose of the other person and if the smells aren’t found too objectionable (again, measured by devices strapped to the chest and wrist) then the romantic pairing is deemed safe.

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Astronauts Lose Their Sense of Smell and Crave Spicy Food in Space

RedChiliPepperAs someone who knows the feeling (without the space travel: Godspeed Jon Glenn!) I am amazed that astronauts develop temporary anosmia in space: wow, never heard that before. Joe Palca writes on NPR’s Food Blog:

If you think astronauts just want dehydrated dinners and freeze-dried ice cream, think again. After a few days in space, they start reaching for the hot sauce. In fact, they may start craving foods they didn’t necessarily like on Earth.

“They crave [spicy] peppers, they crave sour and sweet things,” says Jean Hunter, a food engineer at Cornell University. That means Tabasco sauce was definitely on the menu for space shuttle astronauts. Why this sudden interest in hot peppers? Part of the reason may be that after arriving in space, astronauts lose their sense of smell, which largely governs the pleasurable taste of food. An example of this is coffee. “If you hold your nose and sip your coffee, you’re getting just a bitter liquid,” says Hunter.

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Perfume Pills Will Make Sweat Smell Pleasant

swallowable-parfum-lucy-mcrae_1The future of perfume will be taking a pill that turns your sweat into golden droplets emanating the pleasant smell of your choice. Body odor will no longer be a bad thing. For instance, you’ll find yourself saying, “Did someone just take a fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies out of the oven? Oh, it must just be Michael’s armpits.” Via GreenMuze:

No more spritzing, spraying or dabbing, now you can start you day with confidence knowing that all you need to do is swallow a simple digestible perfume capsule to smell great all day. The Swallowable Perfume, created by renowned Australian artist Lucy McRae, in conjunction with Harvard University biologist Sheref Mansy.

“Once absorbed, the capsule enables the skin to become a platform, an atomizer, a biologically enhanced second skin synthesized directly from the natural processes of the body,” explains the artist’s website. “Fragrance molecules are excreted through the skin’s surface during perspiration, leaving tiny golden droplets on the skin that emanate a unique odor.”

The strength of the scent is determined by varying factors including an individual’s ability to acclimatization to temperatures, reactions to stress, exercise, and sexual arousal.

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What Should Robots Smell Like?

thesmellofcontrol1It depends on what purpose we want them to serve. we make money not art looks at plans for several robots equipped with odor-emitting “sweat glands” which both make the machines seem more organic/alive and effect how people react to them:

Three existing industrial robots have been augmented with ‘sweat glands’. Each uses a specific property of human sub-conscious behavior in response to a chemical stimulus: one makes humans about to undergo surgery more trustful, another one makes women working in production line more focused and the third one is a bomb disposal robot that emits the smell of fear.

The contrast between the physical anti-anthropomorphic nature of the machines and the olfactory anthropomorphism highlights the absurd nature of the trickery at play in all anthropomorphism.

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