senseofplace LAB is working with artists in Berlin and the Netherlands that are investigating smell, to look at its relationship to place.
Psychogeographic art ‘kerchiefs by senseofplace LAB, in collaboration with Sheraz Khan. The project had write-ups in CityMetric, London and CityLab/The Atlantic
Sheraz Kahn (an urban planner and member of Smell Lab based in Berlin) to connect our locations through psychogeographic concepts; understanding the experience of urban environments through our senses and psyches. The concepts aim at understanding the emotional experiences of spaces, our psychological relationship to place.
One psychogeographic process to sensitize ourselves to place, is to take a street map of a different city and follow it in your own. Through doing this, one becomes sensitive to the structures and substances of an urban location like a street or park. The other city’s map calls attention to things that wouldn’t normally be perceived when using one’s own city map.
Since smell is often difficult to perceive, we drew smell maps of our own spaces, exchanged them, and annotated each other’s maps with the smells we experience in our respective cities. This juxtaposition increased our awareness of surrounding smells. Both of the maps are urban areas, although obviously the Presidio has a greater density of plants, trees as well as the smell of the ocean. Areas in Berlin with smells include old man’s shack, bottle waste containers, ice cream parlour and cafe.
senseofplace LAB is working on several editions of the Psychogeographic Art ‘Kerchief; and recently created Edition #3, of 50 works. Edition #1, of 24 works was created in October, 2016 and starts at the senseofplace LAB studio, and takes you on a 15 minute walk to the For-Site Foundation exhibition; Home Land Security at Fort Scott. Edition #2, of 5 works was created for a collector. Edition #2 and #3 are an expanded version of #1. Each work in the second edition has a smell found in the Presidio added to it.
Using transfer printmaking, the two maps are juxtaposed onto each other. This is meant to shift a perspective on place and sensitize the user to what’s around them. The local takes precedence over the global, with the Presidio map in the foreground. This makes it easier to use the work as an actual map, which is encouraged. The printing process itself is a means to reflect the properties of smell. The lightness of the image reflects how smells dissipate and linger, with places having stronger and weaker areas of scent.
Some of the works employ registration shifts, which creates language repetition. This is also meant to convey an experience of smell. Pencil is used at the end, as a way to bring the hand further into the process, and emphasize elements of the map. The last step is the printed ‘signature’, and then its folded into a grid pattern.
The handkerchief itself has much connection smell. The 16th century was the height of when men and women used to carry a ‘kercheif sprinkled with their fragrance. Handkerchiefs have played an important role in perfumery; acting as a textile canvas upon which toilet waters were blotted and sprinkled. The scented molecules were easily retained in the absorbent pile, and often lasted longer than when applied directly to skin.
During this period, handkerchiefs were more often than not held over one’s nose and mouth to veil the stench of the cities before our modern infrastructure had evolved. Now the urban environment has so many smells that it’s often hard to differentiate them. The smell map is an invitation to form a deeper relationship to place.
There’s a new third edition of 50 ‘kerchiefs for the holidays. WASHABLE! Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The following text is from his first e-mail to me (my response: YES!):
“I could definitely create some maps, but I thought of maybe something we could work together on to connect our locations. Have you read or heard anything about psychogeography and dérive? Wikipedia has a pretty thorough (though long and complicated) summary, as well as some key readings: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychogeography. This blog has some good quotes and exercises too: https://mappingweirdstuff.wordpress.com/2009/06/14/mapping-weird-stuff-psychogeography/
My website – www.sherazkhan.de (my very short bio is here: http://sherazkhan.de/about/) – however I have not made a smell map as of yet. Sound maps, speed maps, texture maps, but smell is still to come…and all of our smell work is on http://smelllab.tumblr.com/
Eau d’Amsterdam is an idea of art duo Saskia Hoogendoorn & Lieuwe Martijn Wijnands from Tijdmakers. They created the fragrance together with perfume designer Tanja Deurloo & the creative people of IFF. With a purchase you support the art & pop-up events of Springsnow, Amsterdam’s Spring Celebration that brings an ode to the elm trees.
We will be in dialogue surrounding this question: We fall in love with people based on their smell, can we fall in love with a place the same way?