Distinguished Speaker 10 – Sissel Tolaas

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

Public Lecture + Reception
Thursday, January 30, 2014
6 – 7:15pm5

What if the non-visible – such as smell molecules – was the starting point of action, response and communication? 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. Historical, sociological and religious reasons have pulled the contemporary human being into almost ignoring more than 1 % of his genes, and 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!

Located at Concordia University, 1395 René Lévesque West, Visual Arts Building, Room 114, Montreal, QC

Immediately following Tolaas’ lecture, the HEXA_OUT 5 The Senses roundtable will examine the role of the senses in relation to issues of human and animal perception and cognition. Hexagram researchers Manning, Lapointe and Décarie will discuss the manner in which multi-modal sense impressions beyond vision extend our senses across bodies and into the world. Moderated by anthropologist of the senses David Howes.

Smell is Information, Purpose, Communication

Friday, January 31, 2014
2 – 4pm

In this two hour workshop, each participant will be provided with a set of abstract smell molecules to define. Through using the molecules and a created dictionary/archive of smells, each participant will compose smells that convey certain content.

Located at the Hexagram Resource Centre, Concordia University, 1515 Saint Catherine St. W., Engineering, Computer Science and Visual Arts Integrated Complex, Room 11.705, Montreal, QC


Sissel Tolaas was born Norway and is based in Berlin. She studied mathematics, linguistics, chemical science, languages, and visual art at Oslo, Warsaw, Moscow, St Petersburg and Oxford universities. Tolaas has been working actively in the area topic of Smell /Smell and Language Communications 1990, within different sciences, fields of art and design, and other disciplines. She established the SMELL RE_searchLab Berlin, on smell & communication / language, in Berlin in January 2004, supported by IFF (International Flavors & Fragrances Inc.).

Tolaas’s research has won recognition through numerous national and international scholarships, honours, and prizes. She is a founding member of the International Sleep Science and Technology Association, China/US/Africa/Europe. Tolaas also recently founded the FUTURE OF EDUCATION, in collaboration with the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and Future Education Platform Berlin. Tolaas has done City SmellScape research in several cities such as Paris, Stockholm, Detroit, Kansas City, Berlin, Oslo and London, and is currently working on Nuuk, Istanbul, Calcutta, and Cape Town. She was recently commissioned, together with Harvard GSD, to develop new a Concept of Living in Kuwait.

Photo: Trevor Morgan

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