Smell is powerful thing. It plays an essential role in creating new memories, and the mere whiff of a certain scent can evoke a long-forgotten experience. Perth-based curator Katie Lenanton explores the human experience of smell in her 2014 Next Wave project, Smell You Later, taking patrons on an olfactory journey as they encounter scents across Melbourne.
The sense of smell is both sensitive and objective. There’s a great story about tiger urine that brings this out. Zoo-keepers in London and villagers in India have long known, quite independently of each other, that the urine of a tiger smells a lot like fragrant basmati rice. It turns out, bizarre as it may seem, that the aromatic molecule is the same. That is, although we may not be able to describe the smell of basmati rice to someone who has never experienced it, we can accurately detect the molecule that produces it, even in the most unexpected and stressful of contexts (like the tiger enclosure in the zoo). That doesn’t mean we would like the smell equally. That depends on our experiences with tigers
Adam Jasper in conversation with Katie Lenanton, The Next Wave Festival 2014 Magazine
Why does smell often cause us an emotive response before we can visually recall a memory? And why do we struggle to put smell into words? To sniff out more about Katie’s project check out the full interview in the Next Wave Festival Magazine, download the Next Wave app more more scent-based facts or visit her project website smellul8r.com.