Exploring scent as
a creative way of life


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There is a tendency to regard smells purely on the level of phenomenological immediacy, yet the manners and reasons people engage with the sense of smell are influenced by numerous cultural factors relating to the constructs a society creates integrating the environment, the bodies of its citizens and its symbolic worldview.

Jim Drobnick
art theorist & curator
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Drobnick, J. (2006). Olfactocentrism. In J. Drobnick (Ed.), The Smell Culture Reader (pp. 1–9). Berg, p. 1.

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Above all, as Weick points out, «sense-making is what it says it is, namely, making something sensible». Thus, sense-making requires above all sensing. It is situated in the senses and implies sensory perception. In this respect, the Weick watchword literally refers to the visual: how can I know what I think until I see what I say. not: ...until I hear what I say. Weick’s is a trans-sensory seeing linking the «how» to the «what» – the form to the content. This emphasis on sight and the visual brings us back to images. Sense-making moves between seeing and cognition, the visual and the verbal. In other words, it transverses the senses – sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell: how can I see what I smell until I hear what I touch? This sense based variation takes sense-making a step further, opening it up to the realm of the senses. Though sight clearly dominates here, the senses do not just placidly co-exist in a stable order. Rather, all the senses in the spectrum interact and associate among themselves within the body, an associative process intertwined with emotion, memory and meaning. Making sense of a situation entails physical engagement with the world. The bodily nature of the experience is particularly true for smell: we inhale to smell an odor and then incorporate the olfactory information on a molecular level. The molecules I sense and make sense of are thus uniquely integrated into my body and are no longer available for further association.

Claus Noppeney
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Noppeney, C. (2012). Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought... – Associations Across the Senses. In Bel Epok (Ed.), Ode 1. Scentual perception (pp. 76–79). Cologne, p. 78.

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The seeping of smell into and from our bodies forms one manifestation of corporeal porosity in day-to-day office interactions experienced as part of the incumbent need for bodily integrity. This potentially reimagines different facets of organizational life as configured through our permeable corporeal experience.

Karen Riach & Samantha Warren
organization scholars
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Riach, K., & Warren, S. (2015). Smell organization: Bodies and corporeal porosity in office work. Human Relations, 68(5), 789–809, p. 804.

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