[ISEA2013] Artists Statement: Raewyn Turner & Brian Harris – Downwind

Artists Statement

A continuation of Raewyn’s investigation in sensing the human plume, Downwind explores our differences in olfactory sensitivity and selectivity due to the genetic basis of human olfactory variability. The human plume trails downwind from each body carrying with it signature odours and emotional and environmental olfactory architectures which are the fragrances of our civilisation and times. They are the olfactory cyphers of change, yet sensing them is defined by a combination of genetics and personal experiences. The whole of nature is communicating by olfactory signals that we usually disregard, immersed as we are in a synthetically flavoured and fragranced atmosphere. The revolutionary wind of genetic discovery suggests that we may not all be perceiving the same reality. We’re working with scientific research in olfaction to explore the behaviour-changing signals of smell,  beginning  with  fugitive smell compounds as well as ones  known to  elicit  specific  anosmias–the inability for some people to smell a particular odour that others can easily detect. The work explores controlled delivery of 19 specifically chosen smell compounds through everyday objects.  The pods sense human presence and respond by expressing calibrated amounts of smell via a programmed mechanism that uses arduinos, servo motors, ultrasonic distance sensors.

Over the past 2 years we’ve collaboratively created experiments around olfactory perception.

Artwork instructions: Please place a little sugar on your tongue to help amplify your sense of smell. Place your upturned hand on the silver dish to receive a few grains of  sugar and push it sideways til the hammer rotates and sugar falls. As you approach the lid opens to allow spooning a little sugar into your hand. raewynturner.com   kissingbees.wordpress.com

  • Brian Harris has been devising computer controlled mechanisms and embedded devices most of his life. He studied  science and electronics. An independent designer, he creates large scale finely tuned adaptive mechatronics and bespoke equipment. His inventions for motion control, stabilising camera mounts for aerial photography and robotic trajectories are used in local and international tv commercial and film productions.
  • Raewyn Turner’s interdisciplinary work is concerned with cross-sensory perception and the uncharted territories of the senses. Her works have been shown in numerous national and international exhibitions including Museum of Contemporary Art, LA, Parque de las Ciencias, Granada, Spain, 11th Prague Quadrennial of Scenography and Theatre Architecture 2007,Prumyslovy Palace, Prague, Argentina, Georges Pompidou Center, Te Papa Museum, and Academy of Fine Arts, New Zealand.  Her works include videos, interactive installations, performances, exhibitions and large scale international performance in theatres and stadiums, working as a concept and design artist and lighting designer in collaborations with musicians, orchestras and choreographers.

Acknowledgments: Monell Chemical Senses Center, Philadelphia, USA, Fulbright NZ, Dr. Richard D. Newcomb, Plant & Food Research, NZ, Chris Davison, Creative New Zealand Arts Board, Our families.