talks & presentations

COMMUNICATING SCENT: Exploring Smell Vocabularies and Classification Systems

January 19 – 21, 2018
Mediamatic, Amsterdam

Produced by Caro Verbeek, Klara Ravat, and Saskia Wilson-Brown
Presented by The Institute for Art and Olfaction and Mediamatic

How do we describe scent?
When we speak about scent, what language do we use?
When we classify scents, what structures do we adopt?
Can we do better?

These are the questions that will be explore – and possibly answered – over three days of talks and participant-led workshops, in the world’s first “Scent Hackathon”.

The Institute for Art and Olfaction, Mediamatic, and Scent Art Net Advisors/Associates (S.A.N. A/A) Klara Ravat, Caro Verbeek, and Saskia Wilson-Brown are teaming up to produce a weekend devoted to dismantling, analyzing and (potentially) restructuring how we classify odors, and exploring how we communicate about – and with – scent.

The program starts with a special edition of Caro Verbeek’s Odorama, titled ‘Reading scents: experimental approaches to preserving and describing aromatic heritage’. Artist Peter de Cupere (S.A.N. A/A), and researchers Kate McLean, Laura Speed and Cecilia Bembibre will present the work they have done with language and olfaction. The talks will be supplemented by a performance by Han van der Vegt and Klara Ravat.

The following day, the two day “hackathon” will start with a brief talk by Cecilia Bembibre about existing scent taxonomies, a talk by Caro Verbeek about existing olfactory vocabularies (and current and past efforts made in this realm), and a smelling session led by Saskia Wilson-Brown where we find the classification language for materials that don’t easily slot into existing scent structures, followed by a brief blending demonstration. Klara Ravat will then help self-directed working groups set goals and outcomes, and we’ll get to work.

By the end of the weekend of smelling, problem-identifying and – yes – hacking into existing structures and aromatic archetypes, we hope to present a possible enhancement on how we use existing language to describe scent, and a deep examination of how we classify odorants. We also hope to experiment with assigning data-driven meanings to specific aromatic chemicals.

This event is being made possible with generous materials support from IFF

Please note that certain parts of Saturday and Sunday’s Hackathon are by invitation-only, and certain are public. Please see below for more information.

More details at:

One thought on “COMMUNICATING SCENT: Exploring Smell Vocabularies and Classification Systems

  1. Pingback: NON-SCENTS: SMELL OF THE ABSURD(H)! | scent art. net

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