Ollie Cotsaftis & Sarah McArthur Sentience

stigma, taboo

What is our innate response to the smell of blood?

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

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.

This artwork was produced in collaboration with Microsoft Australia.

Installation, 2017
Image: Courtesy of the artist

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The Artist: Ollie Cotsaftis & Sarah McArthur

Sarah & Ollie like to provoke and question by pushing the boundaries of the human experience. Present at the intersection of the physical, the digital and the sensorial, they use various media to create new alchemies. Interested in the space in between, Sarah & Ollie drive contrast like two forces trying to squish each other apart.