installation (2019)




[Place] Ishigaki City Center for Culture, Ishigaki Japan (premier)

[Dates] 24.04.2019. - 19.05.2019.

[Artist] Maki UEDA (solo exhibition)

[Curator] Tomohiro OKADA (Blue Ocean Foundation / Shimanova)



How do you smell, when you lay down? Is it different from how we normally smell: sitting or standing?

In this work you lay down in a private dark space, let your body release and relax, and smell.  The parasympathetic nervous system becomes active then, and consequently you would smell the scent differently than you do in the normal context where the sympathetic nervous system is active.  You are ‘in’ the scent, drown, or completely immersed.  

What you smell here is the scent of night flowers, but you smell it unconsciously.

Ishigaki Island, where I live, is a fragrant island.  During the hot and humid summer nights we often smell the night flowers in bed as if it is “a perfume of the night”.  It comes up in mind but also disappears quickly, and it repeats. We go back and forth conscious and unconscious smelling.  I have taken this experience and shaped it in the form of this installation. 

When we smell in a western or city context, scent (or fragrance) is something special.  For us in the rural area here, scent is something always there, we take it for granted and not that special. Cities are the consumers of fragrances, but rural areas are the producer.  People here do not wear fragrances, because it’s surrounded by the natural scents of the environment. How people appreciate scents here became an inspiration for this work.

[Technical Fact]

I have used self-extracted Silk Jasmine, a common plant here, and added a touch of fragrance I composed, as booster and fixative.  The scent is impregnated in the paper petals.






It is a research of a biome* from olfactory perspective, and also how people interact with the biome with the olfactory sense. 

*“A biome is a community of plants and animals that have common characteristics for the environment they exist in. Biomes are distinct biological communities that have formed in response to a shared physical climate.” - wikipedia

I have been extracting various plants of the island, and found out that there were common substances present in the extracts.  They were exhibited next to this installation.

For example, we have a lot of night blooming flowers, and they always have hidroxycitronellal type of substances in common. It must be for attracting moths and to get more chance of pollination. Spicy and citrus aspects are often found in leaves, and it must be for surviving in this extremely hot and humid summer here. (Camphoraseus substances as 1,8 cineol, often found in the cold climate area, were less found here - probably it’s too hot for such substances.)

List of raw extracts exhibited (self made)
1. Camphor
2. Shell Ginger Flower
3. Taiwan sugar palm
4. Gardenia
5. Barringtonia
6. Water Lily
7. Ryukyu Pine Tree
8. Vetiver

- Can Smells Contribute to Solving the Problems of Global Warming? -



Sep 15, 2020, at Mazda 100 years anniversary

curator: Natacha Ami (48 Nord Paris)

sponsor / producer: Mazda France + 48 Nord Paris

Does a smell make you feel cooler or warmer? This installation is a laboratory-like work on the senses of smell and temperature, inspired by this question. Two independent compartments are kept at the same temperature. One of them is a diffusion of a group of smells that are said to act on the cold senses, and the other is a diffusion of a group of smells that are said to act on the warm senses. The participants were asked to move back and forth between the two spaces to confirm the effect of the diffusion.

If you can feel cooler in the "cool room", you can actively use those smells in the hot summer, or you can use the smells in the "warm room" when it's cold. We may be able to gain resilience through smells and reduce our energy consumption.

Aromatic substances work not only on our noses, but also on our lungs, eyes and other mucous membranes. In fact, when I was testing a cold scent, my lungs felt cold, even though it was a very hot and humid summer day. The warm scent made my throat hot. Aromatic substances are absorbed through the sweat glands as well as the mucous membranes. Smells can even work on cold and warm sensations in this way, even if they are not recognized as smells.

For this research, I received some general advice from Jas Brooks, a scientist and artist at the University of Chicago.I also benefited from the "Smell, taste, & temperature symposium" which he is leading. This area seems to be still unknown even to scholars. Regarding the effects of specific aromatic substances on the trigeminal system, I referred to the article "Chemosensory Properties of the Trigeminal System" by Félix Viana. 


{Components of the Cooling Fragrance}

  • menthol
  • eucalyptol
  • thymol
  • citral
  • cinnamaldehyde
  • linalool
  • methyl salicylate

{Components of the Warming Fragrance}

  • Black pepper
  • Camphor
  • Eugenol
  • Red Chili Extract (self extracted)
  • Methyl Salicylate

[Artist Statement]

I am deeply grateful to Mazda and the agent for inviting me here and commissioning my new work.

I have been working in the Netherlands/Japan as an olfactory artist since 2005.  Actually this work is an epidemic in my long career.  This is because it is the first time I have tackled the social problem as global warming.  Climate change is a serious global problem. Why is it 37 degrees today in Paris, in the middle of September? 

What can we do about it with smells?  For example, can we change the way we feel hot and cold with olfaction? This  question was my starting point.  The title of the work is: Smells for the Paris Agreement.

I am diffusing a cooling fragrance and a warming fragrance, made with scientific data, in each of two spaces that are controlled to have the same temperature.  You are all witnesses and test subjects for this little experiment.

I asked a young scientist Jas Brooks from Chicago University for advice which molecules to use. I also read the paper regarding trigeminal nerves and transient receptor potential(TRP), the receptors related to temperature.  What was fascinating to me was that, like perfumery, it's important to have a balance between the components.  Some components can be both cooling and warming. Methyl Salicylate is a good example.  This is a common scent used in a cold and a warm patch.  When combined with black pepper, it works for warmth, and when combined with eucalyptol or menthol, it works for coolness.

The following components were used in the final composition.  They are mostly Synesthetic:

{The Cooling Fragrance}
methyl salicylate

{The Warming Fragrance}
Black pepper
Red Chili Extract (self extracted)
Methyl Salicylate

Interestingly, linalool, eugenol and cinnamaldehyde, which I used for a cooling fragrance, are considered “warm scents” in perfumery.  This is where science and art differ.  In this work, I faithfully followed the science.

It's also interesting to note that Menthol, the heart of a cooling fragrance, only works at temperatures below 25 degrees Celsius.  Today, it's hard to get below 25, so it's possible that the cooling room isn't working properly.  I wasn't expecting it to get this hot in Paris. However people mentions that they feel like being in a forest in the cooling room.

In my own experiment I found that my throat was dry in the warm room.  Yesterday's guest described its dry feel as "cork-like". In contrafry, My lungs were cold in the cold room, and I also felt cold where I sweated.  Smells are absorbed by the body through mucous membranes and sweat glands, even if we don't feel they are smells. 

Enjoy the intersection of the senses of smell and touch.

The Curatorial Text 

 Maki Ueda – Du Kôdô à l’art olfactif

L’odorat, sens un peu ”oublié”, est remis au goût du jour par l’attrait actuel pour l’invisible et l’éphémère. La Japonaise Maki Ueda a fait de l’odeur son médium de prédilection. Elle est devenue une des références internationales de l’art olfactif contemporain émergent.
Partant de là, la créatrice s’est intéressée au Kôdô cet art japonais qui consiste à humer l’encens issu de bois précieux. Elle s’est rapidement affranchie du protocole instauré par les maîtres du Kôdô. Elle a repris en revanche à son compte, leur goût pour la performance et le jeu. Dans son œuvre, cette globe-trotteuse formée aux sciences de l’environnement, s’appuie autant sur les pratiques des arts numériques que sur celles, ancestrales, de la parfumerie de Grasse ou de Delhi.

Très vite, son approche multiculturelle et avant-gardiste de l’odorat, impose la jeune artiste auprès des milieux artistiques du monde entier. Cette pionnière de l’olfaction – qui se partage entre le Japon et les Pays-Bas – est rapidement sollicitée pour la mise en place de performances. Celles-ci mêlent danse, théâtre, musique et arts graphiques.

Les fragrances qu’elle compose, n’utilisent que des produits naturels. Elle va se former à Grasse pour mieux comprendre l’extraction naturelle du parfum. En 2014, elle décide de rejoindre Aastha, l’héritière d’une lignée d’artisans parfumeurs, de Kannauj, dans le nord de l’Inde. Cette dernière lui fera découvrir les secrets de l’Attar, une méthode de distillation à l’huile – et non à l’alcool, comme elle se pratique en Occident – vieille de 5 000 ans !

Ce qui m’intéresse dans l’art olfactif, aujourd’hui, c’est l’expérience immersive, la perte de repère et l’idée même du mouvement », résume Maki Ueda. A l’occasion du lancement de MX-30, Maki Ueda propose une expérience olfactive exclusive en référence aux accords de Paris sur le climat.

Elle convie les participants à s’interroger sur l’odeur du réchauffement climatique. Cette installation, travail de laboratoire sur les sens, l'odorat et la température, tente de répondre à ces questions. Maki Ueda présente ici deux structures indépendantes maintenues à la même température. L'une diffuse des odeurs qui agissent sur les sens froids et l'autre des odeurs qui agissent sur les sens chauds. Les visiteurs se promènent entre ces deux espaces.

L’artiste suggère à l’utilisateur d’utiliser les odeurs du froid pendant les périodes chaudes et les odeurs du chaud quand il fait froid. Nous pourrons peut-être ainsi gagner en résilience grâce aux odeurs et réduire notre consommation d'énergie.

Les substances aromatiques agissent non seulement sur notre nez, mais aussi sur nos poumons, nos yeux et nos muqueuses. « Lorsque je teste un parfum froid, mes poumons sont froids, même lors d’une journée d'été très chaude et humide. L'odeur chaude a rendu ma gorge chaude. Les substances aromatiques sont absorbées par les glandes sudoripares ainsi que par les muqueuses. Les odeurs peuvent même agir sur les sensations froides et chaudes de cette manière, même si elles ne sont pas reconnues comme des odeurs ».

Pour cette recherche Maki Ueda a travaillé avec Jas Brooks, un scientifique et artiste de l'Université de Chicago.

- What if coronaviruses were something you could smell and see? -




"Viral Parfum" is the winner for the Art and Olfaction Sadakichi Award 2022 for Experimental Work with Scent!

The Art and Olfaction Awards celebrate excellence in global independent and artisan perfumery, and experimental work with scent.


premier: May 7, 2021, at Städtische Galerie Bremen (Germany)

curator: Ingmar Lähnemann

sponsor / producer: Städtische Galerie Bremen (Germany)

Since the appearance of the new coronavirus, we try to avoid airborne viruses by ventilating the air, meeting people in places where droplets cannot reach us, wearing masks to protect ourselves, and washing off viruses that may have gotten on our hands. In order to learn more about the virus w
e have been trying to see and visualise the invisible viruses, often in laboratory settings.

I came to the idea that the way this virus spreads has similarities to the way scents spread. Scents also spread in the air, so I often pay attention to air convection and ventilation, I also wear a mask when working with strong fragrances, and when handling fragrances, I change my gloves frequently to prevent the scent from spreading to other bottles.

Here are some of the similarities that scents and coronaviruses share:
- They are both too small to be seen.
- They spread through the air.
- They are spread by adhesion
- They disappear over time.

In this exhibition, I use scents to represent the different mutations of the virus. Visitors may spray the "viral parfum" anywhere they like in the room. Other visitors can detect and recognise the scents to find out where the virus is attached. The virus is invisible under normal light, but is occasionally illuminated by using a black light.

There are six different types of viruses here, including mutations. Each of them has a different fragrance, and when combined, they create the scent of white lily. It is a fragrance to mourn and honour the deaths caused by the novel coronavirus.

NO.1: Skyblue : Ylang ylang oil, Hidroxycitronellal
NO.2: Green  : Citronellol, Ionone alpha, Iso Eugenol
NO.3: Yellow : Ylang ylang oil
NO.4: Blue : Nerol, Geraniol, Paracresyl Phenyl Acetate 
NO.5: White : Linalool, Vanillin, Phenyl Acet Ataldehyde 
NO.6: Orange: Neroli Base (original composition)

Making photos: