I am interested in how our senses impact our emotions and memories. There is no doubt that olfaction, our sense of smell, is more intensely and intimately linked to our moods and emotional life than any other sensory experiences. Therefore, I want to start a conversation about olfaction and how important and intertwined it is in our daily lives. I am interested in how patients with chronic diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and depression, experience changes in their olfactory functions in the beginning phases of their illness. In this interest, I was initially conducting a smell identification test of five basic smells to see if people are able to identify them and what memories the smells would recall. After reading The Scent of Desire by Dr. Rachel Herz, I realized that smell is in fact; so personal that I did not want to test people’s olfactory memory ability, but rather how olfaction affects one’s memories, emotions, mood, and overall well-being. Our sense of smell and emotion are located in the limbic system of the brain, which further explains why we have the same kind of difficulty using words to explain our emotional experiences as we do articulating our experiences of smell.
For my exhibition project I present a video montage of people with extreme responses to smells, whether that be good or bad. Viewers are able to participate and share what they experienced through smelling five scents on a postcard, and they can have the option to hang it up as part of the exhibit or take it home with them. I want to emphasize that once you are aware of your sense of smell, your ability to smell will increase.