Lecture: SMELL = information | a tool for communication – navigation – education – decision making


SMELL = information

a tool for communication – navigation – education – decision making

Time:2015.09.23 19:00-20:30

Venue: Chronus Art Center (Building 18, No 50 Moganshan Road, Shanghai)

Lecturer: Sissel Tolaas

Translator: Rachel Huang

Language: English with Chinese translation


I believe that smells are a VERY crucial component in the definition, understanding of and orientation to an environment. Smells surround us all the time. We breathe 23,040 times a day and move 12.5 cubic meters of air and with every breath smell molecules flood through our bodies. Even when we sleep we smell.

We live in a world of total antisepsis; continuous Muzak and wholesale deodorization, match a worldwide homogeneity of faceless glass buildings.

“Sanitized for your protection,” is the antiseptic symbol of sensuous death. Because all environmental smells cannot be pleasant, the consequences could be, we will have non at all! OR, we want to change?

Historical, sociological and religious reasons have pulled the contemporary human being into almost ignoring more than 1 % of his genes! ONLY education can revive these hidden capacities, since the hardware and software still function in the healthy human being, but only if consciously trained and used. There is a whole world to educate and a whole world to smell!

About the Lecturer

Sissel Tolaas is born 1965 in Stavanger Norway, based in Berlin. Tolaas has background in chemistry; mathematics, linguistics; languages and art, from the universities of Oslo, Warsaw, Moscow, St Petersburg and Oxford.

Tolaas is working actively and concentrated on the topic of SMELL / SMELL & LANGUAGE - COMMUNICATON since 1990, within different sciences, fields of art /design and other disciplines. Tolaas established the SMELL RE_searchLab Berlin, on smell & communication / language, in Berlin in January 2004, supported by IFF (International Flavors & Fragrances Inc.)

Her research has won recognition through numerous national and international scholarships, honours, and prizes including the 2009 Rouse Foundation Award from Harvard University GSD and the 2010 ArsElectronica Award in Linz, Austria and the 2010-2011-2012-2014 Synthetic Biology / Synthetic Aesthetics Award from Stanford and Edinburgh Universities including a residency at Harvard Medical School. She did/do research on INVISIBLE COMMUNICATION & RHETORIC i.e. Harvard University: Mexico City 2001- 2009 and continuous. Tolaas is recently a founding member of the International Sleep Science and Technology Association, China/US/Africa/Europe. Tolaas is recently a founding member of FUTURE OF EDUCATION, collaboration with the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and Future Education Platform Berlin, and Singapore Government Department of Education.

Tolaas has been doing City SmellScape research projects since 1998, of, for and with major cities, all over the world such as Paris; Stockholm; Detroit, Kansas City Kansas & Kansas City Missouri, Berlin, Oslo, London, Cape Town, and is currently working on Nuuk, Istanbul, Kochi, Calcutta, and Tel Aviv. Tolaas is recently commissioned, together with Harvard GSD, to develop new Concept of Living, in Kuwait as well as exploring the smells of the worlds Oceans.

2014 Tolaas achieved the CEW New York award on innovation & chemistry. Since 2014 Tolaas is part of several startups on different types of smell devices. Tolaas just launched the worlds first Smell Memory Kit.