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Kate McLean

PhD Work

Nose-first: Practices of Smellwalking and Smellscape Mapping

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. My work addresses how the apparent invisibility of smell as a physical entity, and as a social construct, may be detected, recorded and shared.


The findings include a model of dimensional olfactory space, durational differences in smells between mornings and evenings in single locations, multi-scalar temporalities of a city, polyrhythmic relationships between the situated human body and a range of smells, and a series of projective mappings that render visible olfactory-sensed information. 


By providing cohesive approaches and procedures for smell detection and collection, together with symbol sets and processes for the representation of human-experienced smells, I establish practices of smellwalking and smellscape mapping as platforms for conceptualising and sharing the complexity of human-sensed olfactory perception. 

Info

  • PhD

    School

    School of Communication

    Programme

    Information Experience Design, 2013–2019

  • Nose-first: practices of smellwalking and smellscape mapping

    My practice and research is within the growing field of sensory communication design. In particular how the apparent invisibility of the human-perceived smellscape may be rendered  "eye-visible" through walking and mapping practices. 

    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. My work addresses how the apparent invisibility of smell as a physical entity, and as a social construct, may be detected, recorded and shared.

  • Degrees

  • MFA Graphic Design, Edinburgh College of Art, 2011; BA Related Arts, University of Chichester, 1998
  • Experience

  • Company Director, McLean & McLean Ltd (Sensory Maps); Programme Director Graphic Design, Canterbury Christ Church University
  • Exhibitions

  • Atomise, Edinburgh International Science Festival, Edinburgh, 2011; Las consecuencias del mapa, Mapamundistas, Pamplona, 2014; You are Here: A Journey Through Maps, National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh, 2017; Summer Streets, New York City Department of Transportation ART, New York, 2017; Escales en vue, MAIF Social Club, Paris, 2018; The Senses: Design Beyond Vision, Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian, New York, 2018; Quel Flair !, Musée de la main, Lausanne, 2019
  • Conferences

  • Emotion, Location and the Senses: A Virtual Dérive Smell Map of Paris, 8th International Design and Emotion Conference, UAL London, September 2012; Smellmap: Glasgow, 26th International Cartographic Conference, Dresden, September 2013; Smelly Maps: The Digital Lives of Urban Smellscapes, Ninth International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media, Oxford, May 2015
  • Publications

  • Mapping the quixotic volatility of smellscapes: a trialogue, in Hind, S; Perkins, C Gekker, A; Evans, D; Lammes, S; Wilmott, C, Manchester University Press, 2018, pp 50–90; Smellmap Amsterdam: Olfactory Art & Smell Visualisation, MIT Press Leonardo, Vol. 50, Issue No. 1, pp 92–93; Ex-formation as Method for Mapping Smellscapes, T&F Communication Design Vol. 3 , Issue No. 2, 2016, pp 173–186; Mapping the City's Smellscapes, in Harmon, K (Ed), You Are Here NYC: Mapping the Soul of the City, Princeton Architectural Press, 2016, pp 144–147; Mapping the Invisible and the Ephemeral, in Kent, A & Vujakovic, P (Eds.) Routledge Handbook of Mapping and Cartography, Routledge, 2017, pp 500-514