Smell courses in art academies: fresh perspectives
More and more art students (the Royal College of Art, the Hague, the Royal College of Art, London and PXL Mad, Hasselt) are taught how to engage with new and demanding (museum) audiences through the sense of smell.
The Dutch-Japanese artist Maki Ueda has been teaching the course ”Smell and Art” at the ArtSicence Interfaculty at the Royal Academy of Arts the Hague for almost 10 years now. Ueda choose the olfactory game as a starting point because it requires a creative approach, that is neutral in a sense that the quality and nature of the scents are less important than the sense of smell itself:
“From the beginning I made a conceptual and abstract approach to medium of smell […] We always have limited fragrance materials but we never end up with thinking of new games”
Beside challenging her students to playfully explore the limits of our most neglected sense in order to get acquainted with its characteristics and peculiarities, there is also a practical dimension. Students actually learn the basic skills of perfume making:
“There needs to be a poetic aesthetic dimension too. That is why I teach students a somewhat scientific approach to the medium of smell by extracting and composing, in order to entertain their audience in a creative way”