PLUME: art+science

POSTED IN: Olfactory, Portfolio
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Saturday October 10, 2010

Since October 2009 I’ve been working with Richard Newcomb, molecular scientist at Plant and Food Research.   The focus of our art+science project is on the human plume.  Whilst walking, we shed a plume behind us in the form of a wake, like scent. What will be left behind in the body of the sillage after we have left the room–what trails of information are we leaving behind for our children’s children ?
Our art + science project research involves finding out which compounds in human odour, both above and below threshold, that human receptors can detect. We’re interested in investigating unconscious olfactory sensing; a very important part of that would be in finding out what it is in human body smell that human receptors can detect–or not.

Phase One of the Plume project focused on the initiation of the collaboration including the generation of initial ideas between artist, Raewyn Turner and scientist Richard Newcomb. This beginning for both of us took the form of a  public laboratory called Crossing Wires (

Stage one of Plume funded by Smash Palace

Many new synthetic flavours and fragrances being created may also be taken up into the human body and expressed in the human plume. We ask what impact these newly fabricated olfactory and gustatory molecules are having on our reading of the emotional signals of our everyday lives. What would be the consequences of being able to smell the full fragrance of life?

We co-hosted Multisensory Perception  online discussion on YASMIN,  a network of artists, scientists, engineers, theoreticians and institutions promoting communication and collaboration in art, science and technology around the Mediterranean Rim

The collaboration has resulted in the creation of two further works: a public wine-tasting performance ‘Internettraces’ and environmental art installation ‘Fragrant Earth’.