Olfactory Memoirs

The above photos document three phases of the Olfactory Memoirs project: 1) Documentation of the preview performance of Olfactory Memoirs, which premiered at San Diego Writers, Ink on November 28 & 29, 2015, and featured readings by Krisa Bruemmer, Eva Friedlander, Anitra Carol Smith, and Brian Thedell. Each reading had a scent-scape designed by Brian Goeltzenleuchter. 2) Documentation of the scent transmission system designed and fabricated by Dave Ghilarducci. 3) Documentation of the creative writing workshops led by Judy Reeves and Brian Goeltzenleuchter. More information can be found at olfactorymemoirs.com

Project Notes

Olfactory Memoirs is a performance length production, a workshop series, and an interactive website that challenges both emerging and experienced writers, approximately 14 years of age to 90, to reconstruct childhood memories through the sense of smell.

The performance takes a hybrid form: A literary reading that is choreographed to coincide with an orchestrated delivery of artist-made fragrances. The springboard for each participant’s narrative is an olfactory memory that deeply evokes some childhood memory. Throughout the performance these fragrances play the role of olfactory landscapes (“scent-scapes”) intended to add a sensory dimension to the performance by connecting audiences more deeply to the narrative texts read on stage. The scent distribution technology holds up to 24 different fragrances, which can be deployed at the push of a button and almost instantly distributed to a large audience through hand-held scent tubes. The system is unique in its ability to transmit units of fragrance in tiny doses, allowing Goeltzenleuchter to juxtapose scents without them overlapping and "muddying" together. 

Many of the memoirs were created at creative writing workshops led by Goeltzenleuchter and writing provocateur, Judy Reeves. These workshops were held at youth centers, retirement communities and public libraries, and were open to the public at no cost. Most of the writing created at these workshops is housed at olfactorymemoirs.com

The Olfactory Memoirs website is designed as a participatory archive, in which the aesthetic experience is changed from passive to participatory: Readers become creators who are encouraged to write and submit their own stories. Over time, the website has become a database for those interested in studying childhood and/or olfactory memories. The database may be searched by theme, by region, or by fragrance.