Kate McLean

(Cuckfield, 1965)

British artist, designer, university professor and researcher, Doctor in Information Experience Design (IED) from the Royal College of Art. Lives and works in London, England.

Mapa de Olores: Pamplona

2014

Video animation

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© Manuel Castells/University of Navarra Museum

About the work

Dr. Kate McLean’s research is focused on the way we perceive, understand and classify smells in the environment. With this objective she has designed experimental cartographies of smellscapes in urban and rural spaces. Her smellmaps take place in cities such as Glasgow, Milan, Paris, Singapore, Amsterdam, New York and Marseille. In 2014 Kate produced the smellmap that you see here for the project: “Mapamundistas: The consequences of the map”.

In front of you is the result of a process that begins with a smellwalk in which the participants record impressions of smells that they find on their path. The aromas perceived can be: curious / unexpected, episodic or background aromas; and each of them is assigned a name, a description and a color. Can you perceive them in the video? With this data the artist creates a visual translation using watercolors, animation and digital design. This process is called smellscape mapping and produces a moving map that illustrates the olfactory landscape that the walkers experienced.

Kate understands the sense of smell as a tool that has the ability to make us “travel back in time”, thanks to olfactory associations that are linked with specific memories and places. With her artworks, the artist tries to encourage us to explore the territory by letting our noses guide us. In her own words: “The smell might be there, on the map, as an indication that it once existed, but really, what I am proposing to you is that you look at those smells, you look at the location of them and that you go out and try it for yourself. And you uncover and explore the smellscape as a result of seeing the artwork”. Do you think your nose can be your guide? What does the expo smell like? What does Pamplona smell like?

Mapa de Olores: Pamplona

2021

Participatory work

Learn more about the piece

About the work

Dr. Kate McLean’s research is focused on the way we perceive, understand and classify smells in the environment. With this objective she has designed experimental cartographies of smellscapes in urban and rural spaces. Her smellmaps take place in cities such as Glasgow, Milan, Paris, Singapore, Amsterdam, New York and Marseille. In 2014 Kate produced the smellmap that you see here for the project: “Mapamundistas: The consequences of the map”.

 

In front of you is the result of a process that begins with a smellwalk in which the participants record impressions of smells that they find on their path. The aromas perceived can be: curious / unexpected, episodic or background aromas; and each of them is assigned a name, a description and a color. Can you perceive them in the video? With this data the artist creates a visual translation using watercolors, animation and digital design. This process is called smellscape mapping and produces a moving map that illustrates the olfactory landscape that the walkers experienced.

 

Kate understands the sense of smell as a tool that has the ability to make us “travel back in time”, thanks to olfactory associations that are linked with specific memories and places. With her artworks, the artist tries to encourage us to explore the territory by letting our noses guide us. In her own words: “The smell might be there, on the map, as an indication that it once existed, but really, what I am proposing to you is that you look at those smells, you look at the location of them and that you go out and try it for yourself. And you uncover and explore the smellscape as a result of seeing the artwork”. Do you think your nose can be your guide? What does the expo smell like? What does Pamplona smell like?

We invite you to be part of a new version of the Pamplona Smellmap designed by the artist Kate McLean. You can participate in the construction of this artwork by writing down smells that you encounter while walking in the city center. Your contributions will allow us to build a collaborative cartography that helps us understand how the olfactory landscape is changing. What does Pamplona smell like in 2021?

Some keys to help your olfactory memory:

What smells were recorded in your mind because you did not expect to find them in the city?

What is the most interesting aroma that you have perceived downtown?

What smells do you currently find in all your walks?

Is there a specific smell that you have only experienced in the ciudadela?

What does UNAV campus smell like?

The next time you go for a walk, remember to let your nose guide you. Go to instagram @sobremesa.curating and let us know what smells caught your attention and what they mean to you. We can continue to be curious and experience the environment safely, just as Kate says: for our smellwalks “ the pandemic has changed this slightly, we need to be slightly more aware of getting closer to objects, smelling them, but it doesn’t stop us enjoying it. “

About the piece “Mapa de Olores”

Smells are a relatively new area of ​​study for researchers and designers. The idea of ​​exploring a familiar environment with our nose has captivated me since 2010, when I set out to do my first olfactory scan, which originated the Smellmap: Paris. A short time later, he was conducting olfactory research throughout various cities in Europe and the United States: Edinburgh (2011), Newport, Rhode Island (2012), Milan (2013), and Amsterdam (2014).
Creating the smellmap of a city is definitely a collaborative exercise. Throughout a series of “olfactory” tours (smellwalks), the participants of the place identify the different aromas that the city emits and record their findings; paying attention to the location, the description, the expectations, the intensity, the reference to which they are associated and their feeling of like and dislike. Later, I analyze these data along with interesting fragments of the conversations that arise during the walks, and I select a set of aromas that express the olfactory landscape of the city at that moment in time.
The maps obtained through this process are proposals: suggestions about what we can smell (unique fragrances or combinations) in a certain place. The accompanying fragrances constitute a nasal stimulus, an olfactory free buffet, and in turn a catalyst for debate. Only by engaging in a dialogue about smell perception can we discover the rich complexity of aromas that differentiate our cities.
Smellmap: Pamplona is therefore a multisensory event with scientific notes, visual material, aromas, sound, moving graphics and a composite fragrance.
Walk, sniff … Learn.