ResearchWorks: Nose First – Practices of smellwalking and smellscape mapping

  • 5pm
(Photo: Smellmap of Singapore by Kate McLean)


About this event:

Platform / Discussion | Research | ResearchWorks
Event type:
Booking required | Free | Online

Event information

(Photo: Smellmap of Singapore by Kate McLean)

Human olfactory perception contributes to our understanding of the world; people delight in localised scents. Slight whiffs can enable pre-visualisation of a forthcoming activity, serve as a summary synthesis of previously-witnessed events and have the capacity to evoke situated memories. However, the smellscape is in constant flux and ephemeral, volatile smells are easy to ignore when experienced by ordinary people in everyday, urban environments. The apparent invisibility of smell as a physical entity, and as a social construct, in the prevailing sensory order has led scholars to call for further studies in how smellscapes may be detected, recorded and shared. This talk explains my interdisciplinary, practice-based, communication design research responding to debates in olfactory art and urbanism that highlight the challenges inherent in obtaining and sharing a vast, ephemeral and eye-invisible sensory dataset. There will be more images than words and you will be encouraged to ‘smell along’ imagining and recalling smells from your memory.


Dr Kate McLean is a sensory communication designer and Programme Director for Graphic Design at the School of Design, Architecture and Planning, University of Kent. Her original work at the intersection of human-perceived smellscapes, cartography and the communication of ‘eye-invisible’ sensed data involves leading international public smellwalks and translating the resulting data using digital design, watercolour, animation, scent diffusion and sculpture into smellscape mappings. Kate is co-editor of Designing with Smell: Practices, Techniques and Challenges and is principal designer on the Sensory Maps project.

What is ResearchWorks?

Guildhall School’s ResearchWorks is a programme of events centred around the School’s research activity, bringing together staff, students and guests of international standing. We run regular events throughout the term intended to share the innovative research findings of the School and its guests with students, staff and the public.