Diana Burgoyne (Canada ) & Raewyn Turner  (NZ)


Flap features fifty jars with authentic human odours inside (courtesy of socks that have been well worn by New Zealanders and Canadians). With flapping lids, the jars create a variable rhythm while sporadically releasing the scents of New Zealanders and Canadians. It is what happens next, when those smells and sounds meet the senses of exhibition visitors, which interests Turner and Burgoyne most. In particular, they wonder what automatic associations each of us will experience, and what that will tell us about ourselves as New Zealanders and Canadians.

Flap combines Burgoyne’s  strengths in performance art and electronics with Raewyn Turner’s research into the as-yet unsensed human plume.
While we were making our first work, ReSense at Banff our conversation revolved around whether we could create a work using authentic human smell.  Raewyn took her socks to Plant and Food Research NZ where her smell was extracted from them using HS-SPME-GC-MS analysis. Peaks were found which indicated unknown substance as well as Butylated Hydroxytoluene (an antioxidant!)

With a focus  on developing the human as a sensing instrument, FLAP asks if we can monitor humans and the environment as we merge into a collective cyborgian version of ourselves. While the whole of nature is communicating with olfactory signals the realm of olfaction cyphers is largely uncharted despite their effects on human behavior and emotions.
FLAP explores the intimate landscape of the smells that we take for granted and provides us with a multi-sensory re-visioning of the very humble dirty sock.
Utilising traditional mechanistic devices which are activated by the audience’s shadow, and recalling the concept of archived human smells held in jars in the Stasi files, FLAP engages with the difficulty of actual preservation of the smell of humans standing on earth in 2013. We don’t yet understand how the olfactory molecule manages to affect the mind but future generations may come to understand the significance of unconscious sensing of human smell signatures and seek ways to preserve their messages.


Diana Burgoyne

BLOG Culture Smell and Sound

Review: Mark Amery. ReSense NZ Academy Fine Arts, 2011. 36-new-noises-from-the-academy

Thanks to Richard Newcomb, Plant and Food Research, NZ, CoLab NZ