Inspired by the link between smell and memory, Sentience relates to our capacity as humans to perceive, feel or experience subjectively. It is believed that much of our emotional response to smell is governed by association, which explains why individuals perceive the same smell differently.

Sentience is an olfactory–visual synesthetic installation, transforming a smell–induced emotive response — fear, anger, joy, disgust, or sadness — into a visual experience. The smell of blood is produced by a single molecule, trans-4,5-epoxy- 2(E)-Decenal, which is a powerful olfactory signal that triggers a physiological response in most people.

Embedded in the nascent practice of experiential art, Sentience crosses boundaries and disciplines, and is inspired by the likes of smell artist Sissel Tolaas, installation artist duo Nonotak, and Behavioral Physiologist Prof. Matthias Laska. The work is an open invitation to navigate between the analog, the digital, and the sensorial — presenting audience members with a fleeting experience that recalls memories and feelings deeply rooted in time.

After engaging with Sentience, participants are encouraged to pause, reflect, and question their beliefs around the stigma and taboo of blood.

This artwork was produced in collaboration with Microsoft Australia and was commissioned by Science Gallery Melbourne for their 2017 inaugural exhibition “Blood: Attract & Repel”.