Workshop & PERFORMANCE:  Mapping Emotional Words to Flavour and Fragrance

at The Periodic Table, Aromatope, Montefeltro, Italy, 2016.

Raewyn Turner & Brian Harris

An artwork as a wine tasting performance : Participants created a blend of wines spiked with fragrances that matched their emotional words, and which they shared with the others in a wine tasting performance which included listening to each creation converted to sound with the Accidental Piano

The translation and interpretations of internal emotional states into taste and fragrance is based on reflecting on mental equivalents. Sassure proposed the notion of considering language as a system signalling tones of colour the exact shade of which is irrelevant as long as it is clear that it is meant to be red, yellow, or green. Similarly I asked the participants to consider each taste as a phoneme. A phoneme is an abstract sound type and creates a mental equivalent in the mind of the speaker or listener.  I'm exploring intuitive responses to the signals and ciphers of smell and taste that can be measured by the expansive or contractive sensations felt in one's body along with other responses for example accompanying aural tones or colours.     

Mapping Emotional Words to Smell at Periodic Table, Montefeltro, Italy 2016

Mapping Emotional Words to Smell at Periodic Table, Montefeltro, Italy 2016


 We gathered in the land of Montefeltro, Italy, around the Periodic Table to conduct our workshop " Mapping Emotional Words to Fragrance and Flavour"  in the Aromatope residency as part of the International Conference in Code Biology, Urbino, Italy. 

Brian and I presented this work with The Accidental Piano and another of our works, Downwind at the 2016  CODE BIOLOGY Conference, Urbino

CODE BIOLOGY Conference Photo Gallery


Led by Claude Biemans and Sander Turnhout we gathered a large array of plants from along the roadsides around Montefeltro  for creative mapping of emotional words to fragrance.   Claude and Sanders guided and educated us in identifying which plants were edible --and which weren't .

We created a large array of standards by flavouring the wine with both the foraged plants and the powerful and inspiring Sensient flavours. Thankyou Sensient NZ!  Flavours provided by Sensient included: Ice Flavour, Smoothenol Natural, Ginger Ale, Bacon, Bubblegum, Butter, Cheese, Chicken, Condensed milk, Banana, Strawberry cream, Feijoa, Guava, Hazelnut, Hickory Smoke, Horseradish, Licorice, Malt, Toothpaste, Peanut butter, Mushroom, New York, Oakwood, Olive oil, Cocoa, Tea Brewed Natural, Rose

Each workshop participant brought their emotional poetry, prose and words to the wine and reflected on each flavour to try to find an equivalent match to the words - ignoring the wine and focusing on the fragrance!

Judith  created oak gall ink and found  porcupine quills and feathers around Montefeltro for participants to write their words.

Brian played each blend with the Accidental Piano which took data from the fragrances and output it as piano notes.

Alice Smits presenting her words as a wine tasting.

The elementary forms of olfaction cyphers may be a primitive grammar that began in the formation of human thought, as smell was the first sense organ to develop.

Aromatope//Periodic Table, Montefeltro, Italy : sensing the land

Raewyn Turner : Background history to Mapping Emotional words to fragrances and flavours : I developed the concept of mapping emotional words to flavour and fragrance  into a workshop during my residency as 2004 Digital artist in Residence at Screen and Media University of Waikato, NZ and invited Mary Griffiths to collaborate in the project. 

In 2009 while I was working in collaboration  with Dr Richard Newcomb at Plant and Food Research, NZ  I further refined the work  with Mary Griffith who recorded a new Internettraces for a public wine tasting performance onstage. Using Sauvignon Blanc which is the same base white wine used in the testing and training of human sensory panels at Plant and Food Research I employed a large array of natural and synthetic flavours and fragrances to create a set of standards for creative mapping of emotional words to fragrance.  

In Internettraces,   the performance of mapping as a wine tasting, the audience was to taste the internet, roll it around the palate and consider it with attention…then to drink the internet and reflect on it as it passed into the digestive system… I asked the audience to consider each taste as a phoneme. A phoneme is an abstract sound type and creates a mental equivalent in the mind of the speaker or listener.     

I further developed the performance into a workshop while artist in residence at Monell Chemical Senses Centre, 2011. I taught a series of lectures Olfaction: from Anatomy to Art on the memory and emotional experience of olfaction, and metaphorical mapping 'Creative mapping of emotional words to fragrance' to students in Studio Art in collaboration with Dr Danielle Reed who taught the biology of olfaction at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy in Philadelphia. In the Art history class I introduced the Romantic artists --who coincided with the French Revolution. Ever since Dr Richard Newcomb, Plant and Food Research, NZhanded me two bottles of beta ionone at different concentrations I started thinking about smell and memory and unconscious perception.   In lieu of beta ionone we were very fortunate to have violet essential oil (very rare whenever I've tried to find any) to pass around the class while I showed a video excerpt from a work in progress  that combined violets, anosmia  and memory. The invitation to speak was extended by Scott Stein, Head of Science. Assisted by teachers  Patricia Moss-Vreeland, Anne Keiser and Scott Stein,  Danielle and I taught these classes with a number of students aged 16 to 19: Honors Biology (21), Human Physiology (20), ArtHistory (14) and Studio Art (9).

While artist adjunct at Dunedin School of Art at Otago Polytechnic 2015, I visited the fabulous permaculture landscapes around the Polytechnic and gathered a wide selection of herbs, fruits and edible plants for a 3 hour workshop 'Creative mapping of emotional words to fragrance' in Public Research Seminars.