Visual representations of smell are one of the core themes of our presence on Instagram: Wheel, circle, and pie have recently appeared as recurring and influential visual metaphors. The fragrance wheel created by Michael Edwards is perhaps the most prominent example these days. But the history of visualizations demonstrates that this is only one example out of many.  The visual metaphor of the circle or the wheel has been used to classify urine smells. The colour, smell, and even taste of urine was used to both identify particular illnesses and provide patient prognoses, from Hippocrates to the Victorian era. The practice, called uroscopy or uromancy, was, according to the Doctor’s Review, “once the number-one way to diagnose disease — and predict the future”.

The ephemeral materiality of scent eludes the conventions of visual representation. Instead, the specific sensory qualities of the sense of smell remind us of the many constraints of our snapshot society. Thus, one of the more recent projects initiated by Scent Culture Institute is an open collection of visual material that addresses the visual challenges of scent culture: How are scents rendered visual? This is the unterlying question of the insights (e.g. images, scetches, logos, posters, ads, snapshots, clips and pictures etc.) that we share on Instagram.

Artistic research is an increasingly popular term to conceptualize research activities in the world of art & design universities. The concept highlights the epistemic aspects of artistic practices. Accordingly, certain artistic practices are driven by questions and aim at generating knowledge. Iconic cases from art & design history (e.g. Bauhaus) show that at least some artistic practices have been related to knowledge practices througout history. Thus, it might even be more a matter of terminology and explicit framing of that is a more recent phenomenon.