Chenwei Gao

"City Smell Memory"

Section MS10, Matthew Darmour-Paul

Keywords: memory, urbanism, moving image

Everyone has a smell memory of a city.

Smell memories can make an emotional experience more profound and three-dimensional. Memories start to travel, and then the scenes come back to me again. This feeling is also known as the “Proust effect.” I want to combine the smell with the city we live in, because the sensitivity to smell is the key to determine the intimacy index between you and the city. Each city has its own unique smell, and some specific areas even have their own "smell landmarks". This is the mark of the city in the nose.

Russian writer Dmitry Merezhkovsky said: "the unique flavor of Florence is the white flowers and dust of Ellis (goddess of rainbow in Greek mythology) and the paint smell of ancient paintings." If there is a smell of stinky tofu floating in the air, the first feeling is to come to Changsha. In New York, you can always find the "stinking" Chinatown by nose. Whether it's fragrant or smelly, it's another dimension that defines a city.

In this work I collect the smell memories of 50 people in Beijing to understand their impressions of the same place. Then zoomed in on the Great Wall of Beijing to investigate their smell impressions of the Great Wall and their smell memories of the Great Wall. Combining wax oil and odor-related items to make a model, I use this method to preserve and visualize memory.

The impression of a city or a region cannot be seen by eyes alone.