A current exhibit at New York’s Museum of Modern Art has some interesting work regarding smell by British artist James Auger. The New York Times highlighted Auger’s piece. “Smell +” in a recent article about the show “Science and the Elastic Mind.” Auger created a device that would allow people to smell each other before they actually met, like an olfactory blind dating service. The point Auger makes highlights the importance of the sense of smell and the fact that it’s been diminished in our culture. The exhibit runs through May 12, 2008.
From Auger’s web site at the Royal College of Art:
Smell has been until recently a neglected sense.
The current low status of smell is a result of the revaluation of the senses by philosophers and scientists of the 18th and 19th centuries. Smell was considered lower order, primitive, savage and bestial. Smell is the one sense where control is lost, each intake of breath sends loaded air molecules over the receptors in the nose and in turn potentially gutteral, uncensored information to the brain.
At the same time our bodies are emitting, loading the air around us and effecting others in ways we are only now starting to understand.
This project explores the human experiential potential of the sense of smell, applying contemporary scientific research in a range of domestic and social contexts.
- Where Science and Design Collide, a Few Weird Sights to Behold, in the NYTimes
- James Auger’s site at the Royal College of Art
- An article about Auger’s smell-related project at ScintillateMe.com
- The Museum of Modern Art, NYC