Tuesday, 14 February 2012

THE (SMELLY) CANTERBURY TALES

Who knew you could smell the tales?!

Last Saturday I went to visit a dear friend of mine who has just moved to Canterbury. I had never been and it was such a nice city-break, just an hour away from London St. Pancras Station, with its little pubs, tea houses, shops, and of course The Cathedral! If you have never been, I strongly recommend going, it is really stunning.


But it wasn't there that I found the scents I am writing about. What we all now Canterbury for is not only the Cathedral but "The Canterbury Tales" of course. They have also made a tourist attraction of them, a sort of "museum", so my friend and I decided to act like proper tourists and give it a go. The tales are staged within an entertaining and interactive installation: you walk through different rooms, each representing a different tale - it's this building below, on the left, shame we could not take any pics inside.



What caught my attention was that it is in a way a "multisensory" installation. The tales are told through sound (a device is telling you the story), sight (there are mannequins around you), and they used scents as well! Smell of fire and... well, medieval streets (not that pleasant, let you guess the ingredient!) the ones I can remember. A nice, amusing way of revisiting an old opera, I think. Worth paying a visit when you're there. The use of smells really changes our perception as spectators.


Friday, 3 February 2012

INVISIBLE ARCHITECTURE


Last post was about smell and architecture. They may seem two world far apart but they are actually very near.

Some time ago I was a student at Universit√† dell'Immagine, an MA about the five senses in Milan, where one of the leading teacher was award-winning architect Anna Barbara. She was holding a (much acclaimed amongst student at the time) Sensory Design course, just one of the sensory education experiences she's been doing around the world in her career.

Some time later she kindly asked me to feature some of my research about perfume in Parma in her book Invisible Architecture, Experiencing Places Through the Sense of Smell. Co-written by Anthony Perliss, the book argues about "recent instances of an architecture that is seeking to reappropriate the invisible dimension of olfaction in order to imbue the experience of places with greater meaning".

The book is available on Amazon, both in English and Italian.


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