Maki Ueda (JP/NL)


olfactory artist

online portfolio:


Born in Tokyo, Japan, in 1974. Currently based in Okinawa, Japan 


Maki Ueda is an artist who incorporates the olfactory sense in art. She considers smell to be “new media". Believing that "fewer visuals = stronger olfactory experiences", she puts the emphasis on olfaction over the visual aspect in her work. She often uses scents to spark the imagination or to create perceptual confusion.

She has developed a unique combination of chemical and kitchen skills in order to extract the scents of daily life, including foods, ambient aromas, and bodily scents. She creates scents that capture childhood, identity, a mood, or a historical event. The results of her experiments take the form of olfactory installations and workshops.

Maki Ueda studied media art under Masaki Fujihata at The Environmental Information Department (B.A. 1997, M.A. 1999), Keio University, Japan. She received a grant from the Japanese government in 2000 and from the POLA Art Foundation in 2007. She has been based in The Netherlands from 2000 till 2011. She teaches and gives workshops on olfactory art at ArtScience Interfaculty of The Royal Academy of Art and Royal Conservatory The Hague (NL) as a guest teacher.


2009 - Nominated for The World Technology Awards Category: Art (NY, USA)

2016 - Sadakichi Award Finalist, for 'The Juice of War', The Art and Olfaction Awards

2018 - Sadakichi Award Finalist, for 'Olfactory Games', The Art and Olfaction Awards




• Olfactory installations (as well as site-specific and open-air installations)

• Perfume artworks

• Research on the sense of smell and other senses

• Olfactory performances

• Olfactory workshops (for both adults and children)

• Food art event with the focus on the sense of smell and molecular gastronomy

• Teaching "olfactory art" at art schools and universities



Maki Ueda





In my artistic practice I use smell as a medium to incorporate the olfactory sense in art. Speaking generally about smell, we often think about its practical applications: perfumery, toiletry, flavoring etc. Contrarily, I focus on the parts that are related to memories, emotions, perceptions, and experiences. The smell that I present is like a piece of painting.

Currently I am one of the few artists in the world focusing solely on the olfactory sense. Honorary enough I have been invited to the unique art exhibition with the smells (and of the smells) “If There Ever Was” held in the U.K. in 2008.

While most of the artists/perfumers use the ready-made aroma ingredients, I make the ingredients from scratch. While the commercial world prefers the synthetic ingredients because it's inexpensive, stable, and controllable, I mainly deal with natural ingredients. I consciously do that because I want to work with the smell as a medium, to know what's happening on the material level. Natural smell has a depth that is incomparable with synthetic smell. Synthetic smell consists of the limited amount of components, while natural smell often consists of thousands of components, often uncountable. We know that the strawberry-flavored candy tastes totally different from the real strawberry, for example.



I extract the natural smell from a material with chemistry techniques for retrieving essential oil, distillation, ethanol extraction, oil maceration etc. Sometimes I refer to the chemistry of cooking. I present the smell with the different diffusion techniques like atomizing, perfuming, incensing, and printing (scratch & sniff). The results are presented in a form of installation, live performance, or workshop. I also collaborate with choreographers as a “scent artist” to develop the olfactory interaction in interdisciplinary performance pieces.


Over the last years I've been researching and finding interesting local scents, and extracting them on- site. The focuses are the scents of daily life; food, drinks, materials, persons, and the environment. The result is a series of the perfume works under the name “Aromatic Journey” ( The local culture is being explored and experienced by means of smell. The audience intuitively experiences essences of a culture by smelling. The results are not a perfume to wear, but to smell and trigger one's memory and imagination. For the foreign people they could smell totally exotic, while for local people they could be redefining and zooming into their native scents.

Olfactory preferences are originally locally oriented. They correspond to the evaporating character of aromatic substances. Each culture has its own special smell representation. Nowadays a lot of natural daily-life smells are disappearing because of the drastic changes in lifestyle. The chemically reconstructed smells made by the mass industry are invading us everywhere, and erasing and replacing the natural smells. On a street in Japan you smell Channel 5 just like you do in Europe. I consider this phenomenon as the nasal globalization.

In the past I was making media art works focusing on global awareness and communication. In 2003 I've realized “Hole in the Earth” , an installation in public space with bidirectional permanent streaming of video and audio for connecting two totally different cultures; Indonesia and Holland. When I was in Indonesia for installing, I became interested also to stream the local (good and bad) smells of the street over the internet. This has pushed me into my current works.


For the latest CV (2010-), please go to:



[exhibitions and workshops]

2011 exhibition (curatorial) Palm Top Theater, at 24.h. by Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Amsterdam NL, 31.03.2011.

2011 performance Sukebeningen, at Steim, Amsterdam NL, 20.03.2011.

2011 workshop Edible Perfume, organized by Sensational Mix, Rotterdam NL, 24.02.2011.

2011 performance Sukebeningen, at Scheltema, Leiden NL, 12.02.2011.

2011 workshop Palm Top Theater, organized by International Film Festival Rotterdam, Rotterdam NL, 03.02.2011.

2011 exhibition (curatrial) Palm Top Theater, hosted by V2_ Institute for Unstable Media, as a part of International Film Festival Rotterdam, Rotterdam NL, 21.01.2011. - 13.02.2011.

 2011 exhibition Aromascape of Singapore, organized by Fringe Festival, Singapore, 05-16.01.2011. (at Singapore Art Museum)

2010 workshop Aromascape of Singapore, organized by Fringe Festival, Singapore, 28-29.12..2011.

2010 workshop Paint with Your Nose, NL, in Amsterdam, NSDSK Theaterdagen voor dove en slechthorende peuters en kleuters 

2010 workshop Paint with Your Nose, NL, in Utrecht, NSDSK Theaterdagen voor dove en slechthorende peuters en kleuters

2010 workshop Paint with Your Nose, NL, in Zwolle, NSDSK Theaterdagen voor dove en slechthorende peuters en kleuters

2010 workshop Paint with Your Nose, NL, in Rotterdam, NSDSK Theaterdagen voor dove en slechthorende peuters en kleuters

2010 workshop Paint with Your Nose, NL, in Eindhoven, NSDSK Theaterdagen voor dove en slechthorende peuters en kleuters

2010 workshop & exhibition AROMASCAPE OF EINDHOVEN, Dutch Design Week

2010 workshop 'SMELL LISTENING', Camera Japan Festival, Rotterdam, NL, 2010.10.

2010 solo-exhiition OLFACTOSCAPE, at Inframince, Osaka, Japan, 10.2010.

2010 workshop 'Lunch for the Muted Senses', organized by NPO Neurocreative Laboratory, Tokyo, 08.2010. 

2010 performance 'The Tatooer', collaboration with Scheveningen, Het Nutshuis, Den Haag, NL, 04.06.2010.

2010 giving a workshop, collaboration with Ukiyo project, Brunel University, London, UK, 01-03.06.2010.

2010 premier of a city expedition 'SMELL x ILLUSION', Urban Explorers Festival, Dordrecht, NL, 21-23.05.2010.

2009 artist in residence / panelist, Artist Summit Kyoto, hosted by Kyoto Zokei Art University, 19-20.12.2009

 2009 SCENTS OF HOLLAND at FoAM, as a part of BAZAAR, in Brussels Belgium, 29.10.2009

2009 eau de parfum PERFECT JAPANESE WOMAN in the exhibition PULS during the Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven, 17.10.2009 - 25.10.2009

2009 Edible Perfume Workshop @ CBK Dordrecht (as a part of Camerajapan Festival), 10.10.2009,  CBK Dordrecht

2009 Workshop & dinner in a restaurant style (Japanese) Dinner for Musted SensesCamera Japan Festival, Rotterdam NL, 27.09.2009, 

2009 Workshop Walk n' Sniff, organized by Wijken voor de Kunst, Leiden NL, 22 & 23.08.2009

2009 Workshop The Scent of Edo Geisha, organized by AOF Karoino aru Seikatsu , on 02.08.2009

 2009 Workshop SMELL BAR, organized by WonderArt Production at Chiriro Museum in Tokyo, Japan, on 01.08.2009

2009 exhibition SMELL BAR, organized by WonderArt Production at Mitaka City Arts Center in Tokyo, Japan,  23-

2009 exhibition at World Technology Network Summit, NY USA, 15-16.07.2009

2009 Exhibition Hollad Mania at Lakenhal Leiden City Museum, 16.05.2009.-30.08.2009

2009 workshop Edible Perfume, Tokyo, Japan

2008 workshop Edible Perfume | Open Kitchen, FoAM, Brussels, Belgium

2008 Open Sauces (contributing a course for the gastronomic event), FoAM, Brussels, Belgium

2008 Body Odor No. 5 (performative installation), Garaj, Istanbul, Turkey

2008 eau de parfum PERFECT JAPANESE WOMAN Camera Japan Festival, Roodkapje, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

2008 Drop a line (performative installation with Heiner R. Avdal), Kaaitheater, Brussels, Belgium on 30 & 31.08.2008.

2008 SMELL BAR, Electric-Eclectics Festival, Meaford, Canada

2008 7 smells - the perfumes of the dancers' body odor - commisioned by eg | pc, releasing at the Holland Festival 2008

2008 If There Ever Was (scents exhibition), Reg Vardy Gallery, Sunderland, UK

2008 Painting with Your Nose (workshop for the baby's and toddlers, with Kristina Andersen), Babelut Festival, Neerpelt, Belgium

2008 The Scents of Holland (perfume series), De Kunstsuper, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

2007 Workshop Essence of Perfume - a workshop extracting the Dutch scents - (workshop & exhibition) Corrosia, CBK Flevoland, Almere, The Netherlands

2007 Drop a Line (performative installation with Heine R. Avdal) Vooruit, Gent, Belgium

2007 Aromatic Journey #1 - my memories of Japan - , Artedove, Fosdinovo, Italy

2007 Aromatic Journey #1 - my memories of Japan - , co-exhibition OL-FACTORY with Martina Florians, Erasmus University Gallery, The Netherlands

2007 Skulpturenpark(proposal), Berlin, Germany

2007 Red Wine Chromatography, Aanschouw, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

2006 Hole in the Earth (presentation of documentation), Electrohype, Malmo, Sweden

2006 Aromatic Journey #1 - my memories of Japan - , Artstore Rotterdam, The Netherlands

2005 Aangenaam (permanent installation based on the poem by Jules Deelder) , Mozaiek School (primary school), Rotterdam, The Netherlands

2005 Hole in the Earth , Beijing International New Media Arts Exhibition and Symposium, China

2005 Menu for A Nose - an artwork for NIKA coffee and Tea -, Kunstroute Noord Rotterdam, The Netherlands

2004 Deconstructing Okonomiyaki, Schouwburg Rotterdam production, The Netherlands

2003-2004 Hole in the Earth (finished), CELL production with Jejaring Artnetworkers, Daarut Tauhid Mosque Bandung (Indonesia) and Diergaardesingeldriehoek (Rotterdam, The Netherlands)

2003 Let the Rain Paint, QI-Kunsteiland, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

2003 Touch-Me-Gently, QI-Kunsteiland, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

2001 Hole in the Earth (preview), CELL production with Biz-Art, Shanghai Library (China) and Rotterdam Diergaardesingeldriehoek (The Netherlands)

2000 TELETEXT ART, on Dutch Television TELETEXT page, The Netherlands

1999 A Trash Day, Earth Vision production, United Nation Gally, Japan

1999 Kawabegawa-dam -what will be made, what will be demolished-, Keio University, Japan

1998-2000 Internet-connected LED display project (finished), Fujisawa Keio Postoffice, Japan

1998-2000 Jack-in-a-Postbox (finished), Fujisawa Keio Postoffice, Japan

1997-1999 Spilt Oil Exhibition, at 14 beaches in Japan










2011 Palm Top Theater Exhibition for V2 + International Film Festival (NL)


[artist in residence]

2009 Artists Summit Kyoto (JP)

2007 FoAM (BE)



2007 PRODAROM-ASFO Grasse Institute of Perfumery Perfumery Summer Course

1999 M.A. Media Art, Master School of Keio University SFC (Tokyo, Japan) Teacher: Masaki Fujihata (Media Art)

1997 B.A. Environmental Information, SFC, Keio University (Tokyo, Japan)


1991-1992 Scholord Exchange Student, Pearland High School (Texas, U.S.A.)

[awards & grants]

2009 (nominated) The World Technology Network (WTN) AWARD 2009 category: arts

2007 Grant for Young Artists for Overseas Study, POLA Art Foundation

2000 Grant for Young Artists for Overseas Study, Ministry of Cultural Affair Japan


[academic course / lectures / presentations]

2010 lecture @ Willem de Kooning Academy, Rotterdam, NL, 7/14/21/28.04.2010.

2010 project week @ Willem de Kooning Academy, Rotterdam, NL, 22.03.2010. - 26.03.2010.

 2010 course [Smell and Art] @ Royal Art Academy NL, 01.02.2010. - 18.02.2010.

 2010 lecture @ Keio University KMD, 15.12.2009

2010 presentation @ UKIYO conference, Keio University, 09.12.2009

2009 How to Confuse Your Senses? whokshop @ Willem de Kooning Art Academy, 12.10.2009 - 16.10.2009

2009 Guest Lecture / Projectweek workshop leader [Sense of Smell], Willem de Kooning Academy, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

2009 1-week-workshop Explore Rotterdam with Your Nose, Willem de Kooning Academy, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

2009 Fragrance Journal Co. Tokyo Japan

2008 Leiden University

2008 Amsterdam Rietvelt Academy

2008 Tokyo Art University, Japan

2008 Willem de Kooning Academy, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

2007 Willem de Kooning Academy, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

2007 FoAM researcher's gathering, Brussels, Belgium

2006 Piet Zwart Institute, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

2004 Art Academy, Bandung, Indonesia

2000 Dog in the Backyard (CBK), Rotterdam, The Netherlands

1999 Mediamatic Salon, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

1999 Keio University, Yokohama, Japan

1998 Japan Design Forum, Fukui, Japan


[experiences besides the artistic carrier]

1999 Part-time teacher at Tokyo University of Art (media literacy)

2002 Researcher(curatorship) at YCAM Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media



2008 article on If There Ever Was, AROMA RESEARCH°°No.35 2008/8 (vol.9/No.3), Fragrance Journal Co. ISSN: 1345 4722 [JP]

2008 If there ever was (contribution of a smell) ISBN: 978-0-9557478-0-9


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