PLUME – Raewyn Turner and Richard Newcomb

Electron microscope image of olfactory sensors

In this project Raewyn Turner and Richard Newcomb focus on the unconscious perception of the human plume — the scents and particles we all shed behind us in the form of a wake. Research into plant/insect/animal/human sensing of the human plume, shows that the plume may include emotional state information. The many new synthetic flavours and fragrances being created may also be taken up into the human body and expressed in the human plume. We need to ask what impact these newly fabricated olfactory and gustatory molecules are having on our reading of the emotional signals of our everyday lives. What would be the consequences of being able to smell the full fragrance of life? And what trails of information are we leaving about our lives to those that follow?

Project Update: During the residency period, Raewyn will be joined by Brian Harris as her cooking collaborator at the 109 Devon Street working space. This edition of the project is called PLUME; 4,000 varieties of orange.

Project Research Phase — Crossing Wires

Crossing Wires - public dialogue

Crossing Wires - public dialogues

The ‘Crossing Wires’ installation provided a window into the seldom seen world of the science laboratory blended with performance exhibition art. The installation offered the public the opportunity to experience science experimentation and participate in active dialogues on the cultural, social and temporal constructions of our sensed reality.

Scientist, Dr Richard Newcomb has research interests in olfaction in both humans and insects, and in ways of comparing these different biological systems to address how they have evolved. Raewyn Turner is a practicing artist exploring sensory science through alternative expression, including the extrasensory and subsensory plant-animal-human communication. ‘Crossing Wires’ acted as a fusion of their two worlds where science meets art and the boundaries between each dissolve.

The project worked together with the public to categorise odours extracted from worn socks. Over the three week installation, raw material was collected and processed to obtain olfactory samples representative of the essence of humans currently walking on the earth.

Richard Newcomb and Raewyn Turner also decided to create a ‘fish-bowl’ environment for the ‘Crossing Wires’ working installation in order to allow them the time to learn more about art and science collaboration and to generate the first draft for their larger scale overall project.

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