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2017 STS Making and Doing Program

Meeting Home | Making & Doing Main | Making and Doing 2017 | Category: Visual and Sensory Approaches

STS Olfactorium

Alac, Morana,


Evelyn Walker, UCSD

Olfaction is not only the least studied sense, but a sense that poses specific challenges to those who study it. One reason for this is its peculiar spatiality. Scientists in olfactory psychophysics—whose everyday practices we observe—engage the sense of smell by importantly dealing with space. That space is not reducible to the known parameters of “distant observation” and “reaching toward,” familiar from the visual and tactile modalities. Instead, the embodied spatiality associated with olfaction is one of immersion: odors environ. In the laboratory, this kind of spatiality regards experimental participants as well as lab members who live their labs as smellscapes. Michael Lynch (1991) pointed out that places of scientific work are not only about physical locales but concern practical actions within those spaces. Adding noses to the universe of eyes and hands that Lynch discussed, means, however, re-proposing the question of witnessing and rendering: How do we engage places of scientific work when they are articulated through olfactory features of experience? We deal with the issue by stepping off the printed page. We thus exhibit a multisensory installation that imaginatively combines historical records on Eleanor Gamble’s first olfactorium, with visual, odorous, tactile and audio fragments of laboratory life collected during our study. The installation can be inhabited by small clusters of visitors, while conceiving and actualizing it further attunes its designers to mundane efforts in olfactory psychophysics. We intend our olfactorioum to generate aesthetic experience but also to function as a mode for methodological reflections in STS.

Browse 2017 Projects

Alac: STS Olfactorium

Battles: The Trial Balloon: buoyancy, embodied media, and patchy planetarity

Callahan: Rethinking Citizen Science through doing Citizen Science

Cardoso Llach: Tracing Design Ecologies

Clement: Snowden Surveillance Archive

Cohen: Toward Improving Public Policy for Struct Engrg Design of Bridge, Transport & Marine Infrastructure

Durnova: Politicizing the scientific self through media interventions

Erickson-Davis: What it is to see: a simulation of artificial vision

Gluzman: Feminist Theory Theater

Gomez-Marquez: Construction Sets for DIY Medical Technologies and their Black Box Counterparts

Hidalgo: Collaborative Research Toolkit: a copyleft resource for the co-design of research processes

Hoagland: Getting a Sense of the Place: Navigating FemTechNet’s Critical Race and Ethnic Studies Workbook

Houston: Collaborative urban sensing with the “Dustbox” air quality monitor

Howell: Emotional Interpretation & Materiality of Biosensing

Johnson: Engineering Comes Home: Co-designing local infrastructure with residents of a London housing estate

Kennedy: Doing STS at the science/policy intersection

Knopes: Integrating STS into Bioethics and Medical Humanities Programs

Lachney: Generative STEM: Circulating Unalienated Value in Education, Labor and Environment

Lawson: (T)racing Eyes and Hearts:  An Installation to Explore the Physiology of Empathy

Lehr: Undergraduate STSers Learn by Doing in the Trump Era

Lippman: Making Sensible in 360°

Michails: AirTRACS: Community-based Air Quality Monitoring

Mogul: A STS STEM Education Incubator: The Co-Making of Inquiry

Mohsin: QEERI’s Science Majlis

Murphy: Environmental Data and Governance Initiative: Engaged STS Responding to the U.S.Administration

Nafus: Data Sense

Navarro: Our Driverless Futures: Speculating Moral Dilemmas of Self-Driving Cars

Nieusma: STS Design and Innovation: Disciplinary Discomfiture

Onaga: Biomaterial Matters: Fitting Humans into Cocoons, A Speculative Prototype

Ostman: STS approaches to public engagement with science: Synthetic biology

Ostrowski: The Empirical Printing Program

Perez Comisso: Technological theory for all: Teaching experiments on STS in Chile

Rosado Murillo: Pedal Transcriba, an Ethnographic Device of (and for) Qualitative Research

Shapiro: Detoxifying the environment across temporalities

Steensen: Face-off! Platform versus Self: A photobooth experiment

Stern: Zika and Feminist STS: Building a Network, Doing Collective Scholarship

Taylor: Connecting-Probing-Reflecting Spaces: The New England Workshop on Science and Social Change (NewSSC)

Terrell: The making of an undergraduate Sociotechnical Ethics Society

Wentworth: Handholds: making sense of bodies through slaughter

Wong: Design Workbook Variations: Exploring Biosensing Privacy Futures

Wylie: Making and Doing STS with Undergraduate Engineers: The UVA Approach