world preimer: V2_ Institute for Unstable Media

15.03.2012, event name: Smell This!


V2's page on the event Smell This!


OLFACTO (= olfactory) SCAPE (= scenery)

OLFACTOSCAPE is an invisible panorama painting. It's a 3m diameter space created with a curtain. The walls are "painted" with smells.

Perfume is a composition of multiple ingredients, often more than a hundred. Making a perfume is like making a piece of music: creating a harmony with multiple tones. In this version of the OLFACTOSCAPE, independent components (aromatic ingredients) of Chanel No. 5 are separately placed (sprayed) at the different locations. If you stand in the middle point of the space, you would smell the "harmony." If you walk along the curtain, you would smell the "individual tones." The intention is thus, to deconstruct the Chanel No. 5, and to reconstruct it again.

Enter the space, close your eyes, walk and sniff like a dog. Some scents come closer to you, while others fade away. When do you smell the "harmony" and when do you smell the "individual tones?" Do the scents navigate you instead of you navigating yourself? Is there any scent that attracts you, or that makes you want to approach?

This project is supported by Omega Ingredients and







A multi-sensorial perception of space - ‘Olfactoscape’ by Maki Ueda

A review by Caro Verbeek, an art historian

(cited from


‘Because we have two nostrils and because we can move, we are able to perceive smells in stereo and navigate through a space by inhaling’

Eyes closed, hands on the circularly arranged cloth hanging from the ceiling, concentrated on the olfactory clues sprayed on the textile in front of me, I slowly make my way through Maki Ueda’s ‘Olfactoscape’. ‘Chanel no. 5 deconstructed’ it said in the announcement. Suddenly an obtrusive smells hits me like a brick wall. I knew this was coming, but still it’s incredibly overwhelming; pure animalistic and deeply penetrating musk! Without hesitating I take one step back. It’s still there. Recovering from the first shock I am turning slightly to the left as it disappears. Nothing now. I move closer to the smooth flexible wall counter-clockwise. This brings me back to the more pleasant less pungent aroma I perceived one minute earlier. This one is less volatile, has less volume so to speak. By shifting my weight from one foot to another I try to find the exact border between the two. And there it is! Sharp like a knife. Apparently movement facilitates a spatial perception of odour to such a level that it becomes a floating and clearly defined shape.


‘Because we have two nostrils and because we can move, we are able to perceive smells in stereo and navigate through a space by inhaling’, Maki Ueda tells the audience before inviting them to visit ‘Olfactoscape’ during the V2 ‘Smell this’ event on the 15th of March. ‘Remember to keep your eyes closed and to move slowly’, she adds with a serious expression on her face. ‘Olfacto’ referring to the sense of smell and ‘scape’ to a landscape, this circular installation containing the most important components of the famous Chanel no. 5, enables visitors to experience space by one of our most underrated senses. ‘Why did you choose this type of construction’ one curious bystander remarks. Ueda: ‘When you stand in the middle, you perceive the harmony, that’s why this installation is organized as a circle, although a labybrinth or a rectangular narrow space would have been interesting as well’.


‘This was the first modern perfume’, she continues. ‘All perfumers educated now have to be able to reproduce it’. Chanel no. 5 is a so-called signature perfume. Its origins are surrounded by myths. One of the stories is that of a perfume mixer that somehow overdosed on aldehydes and ‘boom’: the birth of the first modern perfume, which - supposedly by mistake - has an extremely characteristic aroma. When isolated, these aldehydes are somewhat unpleasant and ‘fatty’ as Maki describes them.


Most of us are familiar with the fact that odours that are perceived as foul or hideous when secluded, turn out to pleasant and (wildly) attractive when covered with floral or fruity top notes. Musk and indole (to be found in human feces and associated with prostitutes at that time) are suddenly acceptable by upper class women when combined with vanilla or citrus. Chanel no. 5 is one of these layered almost schizophrenic perfumes. By deconstructing and grouping the most important ingredients, the artist presents to us a three-dimensional version of the most famous perfumes of all times. She allows us to smell the less agreeable odorants separately, exposing the bare naked femme fatale (base notes) underneath the civilized dressed up lady at the surface (top and middle notes). This makes it a bit like watching a scary movie. You know something is about to happen, but you can’t predict when. But your body knows before your mind.


Beside this more conceptual layer, there is a poetic and purely sensual aspect to the work which one can exclusively become aware of while experiencing this aromatic landscape. It forces you to combine several of your senses as if they were one: touch, smell and proprioception or kinaesthesia. A kinaesthetic experience is usually conceived by sight and even sound in combination with movement. This less well known sense tells us what our position is in a defined space. The unique circumstances provided by Olfactoscape, hand us the possibility to navigate through space with our hands, nose and body. The knowledge of the presence of certain ingredients, such as indole, aldehydes and musk, offers an extra dimension. Once you perceive them, being aware of the fact that your body almost described 360 degrees by this point, they function as a grand finale.


After exchanging the darkness and consolation of the installation for ‘neutral’ air and sharp electric light I am in a complete different state of mind. The mindful and multi-sensorial journey through Chanel no. 5 definitely left its mark on me.

Makoto Yokomizo (architect) x Maki Ueda (olfactory artist)

pavilion (2013)


It's a void space dedicated for touching, hearing, and smelling. The architect Makoto Yokomizo designed a semi-dark space that makes you feel like "endless space that is vast and misty", and Maki Ueda made the scent diffusion system for it. As you walk into the space you cannot see at instance, then you  automatically switch your priority to hearing, touching, and smelling. As you get used to the darkness you see no end in the space. There's no object but an environment. As you explore in the space you smell differently - 3 principle smells are used here like RGB for monitors. Thus, smells navigate you in the space. There's no meaning given to the smells, but it's you who give them.  The focus is your sense of smell, movement, and orientation.


Period: July 23 (TUE)- Aug 9 (FRI), 2013. 10:00-18:00. 

Place: Okamura Garden Court Show Room

    New Otani Garden Court 3F, Kioi-cho, Chiyoda-ku, 102-0094, Tokyo Japan

Tel : 03-5276-2001


Organized by: Okamura Co. Ltd. 

Support: Yamamoto Perfumery Co. Ltd.


Development: (link to my blog)白い闇%5D

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installation (2013)


 [Premier] ATSUKOBAROUGH, Tokyo, 11.09.2013. Sharing Vibes Exhibition

[Dates] 11.09.2013. (wed) - 29.09.2013. (sun)

[Place] ATSUKOBAROUGH - arts drinks talk - (next to Bunkamura)

[Artists] Maki UEDA/Kensyu SHINTSUBO/Fuyuki YAMAKAWA

[Curator] Yukiko SHIKATA


[Event] Maki UEDA workshop "Search the space like a dog vol.2" 21.09. sat. 17:00~19:00








■Introduction - move, smell, and sense -

This looks like an installation with bottles hanging from the ceiling in a grid. It is actually a space designed for olfactory exploration.

Each bottle contains fragrant oil. The candle rope by which it hangs from the ceiling gradually absorbs the oil and spreads the scent around the space. The oil is just strong enough to be smelled from a 20-cm distance.

Each grid is about 40 to 50 cm, just wide enough for a person to walk through while smelling.

Three different fragrant oils are used, and they are placed in such way that a person can trace a smell from bottle to bottle. They are placed in clusters or in lines, like a Reversi game. It's a small, playful "olfactory labyrinth" that also tests your sense of smell.

The construction is flexible, allowing the level of complexity to be adjusted to any target group during exhibition. In this way, it is a platform for experimentation and there is no final, fixed form.



The main focus is the olfactory experience rather than the scent itself. Often in olfactory installations or exhibitions, the focus is on guessing a smell or evoking memories and feelings. I think, though, that smell is, in itself, neutral. It's the audience who attribute meanings such as "I dislike this smell" or "This is the smell I knew from my grandma's house" after processing olfactory information in their brains. My memories are different from yours, so how can I assume that what is a "sweet smell" to me will have the same meaning to you?

Such meanings to smells are given from personal experiences and histories. This is why I chose not to give meanings to smells in this project. I rather want to be open to surprising olfactory experiences that we normally wouldn’t encounter in daily life. Omni-directional olfactory experience has been forgotten in our modern life, so reviving it is especially interesting. You can become convinced that human beings, much like dogs, have the ability to sniff around and navigate themselves using their sense of smell.

In our society it's not considered good manners to talk about smell, but it's recommended to do so here!



In recent years my key words have been "movement" and "olfactory experience". I've been researching omni-directional olfactory experiences within a certain space. The sensations created by actively walking around and finding smells are very different from just passively receiving smells. I think I'm one of the few artists researching this discipline.

I’ve wanted to make an "olfactory labyrinth" for years. I’ve thought about a big construction in an open space, or an interactive installation with sensors. But I first wanted to experiment at low cost, resulting in this first prototype for future development.

I selected the fragrant oils while wondering how to make a finer resolution of smells within a certain space. Without my sponsor Yamamoto Perfumery Co., Ltd. such experimentation would never have been possible.

I tried to exclude visual and audible aspects in this work as much as possible. I let the work explain itself rather than doing so in words. Instead smells and space communicate with your physical sensations, allowing you to project images and play sounds in the mind. I believe that smell possesses such power.



Supported by:

Yamamoto Perfumery Co., Ltd.



[Cutatorial Notes]

On "Sharing Vibes: As Part of Resonating Place"


“Sharing Vibes” is presented as a place where we may discover the world anew by starting to recall the diverse invisible and immaterial information―odors, water veins, flows, etc.―that we usually cannot sense, or fail to notice.


It is in this space that Fuyuki Yamakawa, Maki Ueda and Kenshu Shintsubo will attempt to originate a resonance using, sounds, odors, photography and other media. All three avoid confining their works into distinct media or meanings, and instead regard them as potential information so to prompt us to open up our perceptions and thinking.


Yamakawa showcases a new work that makes underground water flows audible and visible. The research he carried out to create this work will also be presented in the form of a portable map that visitors can take with them in order to feel the water veins in Shibuya. Ueda's “labyrinth” composed of multiple odors is a place where each person gives active attention to the sense of smell. Shintsubo’s works vividly capture the phases of water that circulates the world through the atmosphere and trees.


The mutual interaction among the works,the mutual influence between those who share the space, and the new vibrations that are born through the multiple resonances between the space, the works and the people... A place each of us participate as a part of the exhibition, of the space and of the world. “Sharing Vibes” does not end.  (Yukiko SHIKATA, Curator)



workshop (2013)


[Premier] ATSUKOBAROUGH, Tokyo, 11.09.2013. Sharing Vibes Exhibition

[Dates] 11.09.2013. (wed) - 29.09.2013. (sun)

[Place] ATSUKOBAROUGH - arts drinks talk - (next to Bunkamura)

[Artists] Maki UEDA/Kensyu SHINTSUBO/Fuyuki YAMAKAWA

[Curator] Yukiko SHIKATA

[Event] Maki UEDA workshop

"Search the space like a dog vol.2"

21.09. sat. 17:00~19:00









installation (2015)


[Premier]  24.03.2015. Exhibition"There is something in the air"

[Dates] 24.03.2015. - 

[Place] Museum Villa Rot, Germany

[Concept] Maki Ueda

[Curator] Caro Verbeek

[Supported by] Jean Bouis Perfumery Co., Ltd. 


"The walls are inpregnated with different woody smells: Cedarwood, Olibanum, Patchouli, and Labdanum. Find the exit by folling one scent that starts from the entrance."












installation (2019)

[Premier]  14.02.2019. QUEL FLAIR! EXHIBITION

[Dates] 14.02.2019 - 14.02.2020

[Place] Musee de la Main, Lausanne, Switzerland

[Concept] Maki Ueda

[Curator] Musee de la Main

[Supported by] Givaudan (Geneva)