Burnt Offerings: Body Odors and the Olfactory Arts in Digital Culture

Symposium:


Session Title:

  • Digital Bodies

Presentation Title:

  • Burnt Offerings: Body Odors and the Olfactory Arts in Digital Culture

Presenter(s):



Abstract:

  • What is olfactory art in a digital age? Margaret Morse examines pieces by three contemporary artists who work with odors and asks what such olfactory expressions teach us about the body in cyberculture. Widespread assumptions about the disembodied and hence clean and odorless nature o’ digital realms are set in question in the process. Other questions arise including whether smell is already «virtual» to some degree and whether cyberspace is inherently smelly. Olfactory art is set in the context of shifts in the perfume industry and contemporary initiatives to rationalize digitize and distribute smell virtually. Historical studies on the cultural uses of odor in the ancient and pre-Modern world and theoretical concepts such as Benjamin’s ‘aura’ and Anzieu’s ‘olfactory envelope’ illuminate the role of odor in relation to the network of associations that compose the memory and the imaginary of community.

Category: