Friday, January 21, 2011

Re: [Yasmin_discussions] Around Simulation II - Simulated Senses and the Un-Simulatable

Dear Roberta, and all,

I think our lack of understanding our other senses is main reason why we have
the discussions :) By attempting to simulate, or think about how to simulate, we
learn what we do not know, right?

An scent artist whose work I love is Sissel Tolaas. She has simulated area's of
cities. She has simulated Fear by allowing for synthetic re-creation of terror
sweat which she combined with the re-created smell of butter (which when I
smelled it, freaked me out and made me instantly step backwards as fast as I
could....what type of simulation is this? (I remember I mentioned her work
briefly in the last simulation discussion, but we did not really dive into smell
then) Sissel is an advocate for understanding the importance of smell and
pointing out our lack of understanding it.

If you search for video's you will find many: here is a presentation by

Check out the images of Sissel's studio on this BLOG post about Sissel's work.
In particular I like the 'Scent Communicator' Device:

This is what the BLOG says about Sissel's work:

11.05.09 — By Monica Khemsurov
"I'm a professional provocateur," Sissel Tolaas says between sniffles, her
Norwegian accent blunted by one of the colds the artist and world-renowned
scent expert often gets after maxxing out her mucous membranes. Visit her
at-home laboratory in Berlin, where she concocts conceptual fragrance studies
for museums and for megabrands like Coty, and the provocations begin almost
immediately, regardless of her weakened state. You're asked to identify mystery
smells and then feel strange when you not only have no idea what they are, but
can't even find words to describe them. You're presented with three of the 40
variations on stinky socks in Tolaas's scent collection, then made to question
why they smell any worse to you than, say, fresh strawberries. Suddenly it
dawns on you that you know almost nothing about your sense of smell, despite
the fact that you breathe in about 27,000 times each day. You feel humbled.

At that point, Tolaas's job is half done. Though on any given day she might be
busy developing an ambient odor for a Margiela exhibition or identifying a
prototypical Swedish smell for Ikea, the larger aim of her career, she says, is
remediating "the lack of understanding smell has in our society." The first
step is getting people to pay attention, even if it means using unseemly
tactics like mixing up a kind of "filth soup" cologne and wearing it to a film
festival, or simulating the body odors extracted from men having panic attacks
and exhibiting them on scratch-and-sniff walls at MIT. "I have what scientists
don't have—the guts to go out there and try my ideas out in reality," the
49-year-old says.

Once her art projects get people thinking about smell, Tolaas reasons, they
then need a language to talk about — and thus begin to comprehend — what may be
our most elusive sense. To that end, she's developing a lexicon of newly
invented smell terms called NASALO, aided in part by the library of nearly
7,000 scent specimens she's been personally harvesting since 1990. The
collection includes everything from 150 variations on dog shit to the lone
aroma she'll admit to favoring above any other: that of her 11-year-old
daughter, whose scent she's been tracking since the day she gave birth. Most of
us experience the world predominantly through our eyes, but not Tolaas, which
is why she declares her latest cold a vacation, a blessing in disguise.
"Sometimes I have to close my nose," she says. "It's just too much."

From: rbuiani <>
Sent: Fri, January 21, 2011 3:15:20 AM
Subject: Re: [Yasmin_discussions] Around Simulation II - Simulated Senses and
the Un-Simulatable the risk of being naive: the more subjective and arbitrary a type of sense
is and the more unsimulable it is too. this is not so much because of the
actual difficulty to simulate a particular sense, but because that particular
sense has not being payed too much attention to (smell being one) or has been
deemed as secondary: thus, it hasn't been subjected to any set of rules (think
of perspective) that dictate the way in which a sense has to be reproduced

I have been thinking about this for a while (coming out of a period of research
on conventions and assumptions regarding the act of seeing, so I am very
interested in knowing about treatments of the act of smelling or tasting) and
would love to hear what everybody else thinks about this issue.

roberta buiani
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