Memory of Scent

On Friday, October 26, at 10.15-12.00, we will have an extra K3 seminar with the title Memory of Scent. An exhibition with the same name will take place at Wanås Konst between October 27 and November 4 (, and in relation to that, two of the exhibitors, olfactory designers and artists Yoko Iwasaki and Boris Raux, will come to K3 to present their works and discuss what olfactory art could be.

Yoko Iwasaki will talk about The necessary conditions for olfactory art.

The title of Boris Raux’ talk is To meet each other around smells.

The seminar will take place in the K3 studio, fifth floor, Niagara.

Here are abstracts for the two talks:

The necessary conditions for olfactory art

I want to talk to you about olfactory art, a concept that everyone is more or less unacquainted with, and discuss its definition and potential. I have personally been involved with olfactory art for the better part of the past five years, not only in a theoretical manner, but also in a practical capacity, which included organizing exhibitions. I personally am an expert in the French arts and aesthetics, originally studying the Theory of Painting based in Body Theory. However, as I progressed with my studies, I became skeptical of the so-called Body Theory in Western thinking. I wondered: Is Body Theory really focused on our everyday bodies—bodies that are equipped with five senses, bodies that we eat and smell with? Is Body Theory not focused simply on bodies intended for perception in terms of seeing or hearing? In the modern world, our sense of vision has evolved into a tool that stands apart for taking in information, but should we truly be content with that?

In 2001, I was in Kyoto in Japan and was exposed firsthand to kodo, the art of appreciating Japanese incense. The shock that hit me was tremendous. Realizing that scents were a traditional Japanese art and that kodo was the world’s only art form making use of scents, I began to study kodo. That’s when I had the thought: somewhere in the very essence of kodo existed the veritable conditions for olfactory art to take hold and do so in a way that clicks with our modern art scene.

Consequently, I will first introduce many prototypes in Western art that come to mind when you hear the phrase olfactory art. Afterwards, I will provide commentary on Japanese kodo.

Finally, I would like to present my conclusions on the conditions for olfactory art to take hold.


Associate Professor of Kyoto-saga College of Arts

To meet each other around smells

Through examples taken from my own practice, I will point out how smells deal with the common and the singular. Because olfaction still resists to normalization and standardisation, smelling something together is also experiencing inner references and values of the other. It pushes the Relational Aesthetic logic forward by creating a wonderful prelude to the sharing of a hand-in-hand culture.

Since more than 10 years, I am developing a practice that introduces the olfactory dimension to Contemporary Art.

Through this perceptive filter, my work is an invitation to rediscover the multiple facets of our constructed identities. Artwork after artwork, I build a kind of “olfactory chronicle” that try to cover some chapters of our existence.

This olfactory perspective highlights our ambiguities in order to better understand our selves. Smells force us to further encounter art from a social and contextual perspective, placing it within the « here and now » of life.

So as to go beyond the inevitable singularity of our olfactory references, I always shape the olfactory dimension by others media such as visual.

On one hand, it helps to build and share a common experience and meaning between the audiences. On the other hand, the olfactory dimension questions in return the already built conventions behind the other media.

Besides a touch of humour, my work is determined by the impossible but needed quest of understanding and representing the complexity of life and especially socio-construct life.

As for scents, my approach is based on infiltration into the real.


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