the air reading lab
2021, Media object
Project by Olesya Ilyenok and Andrey Chugunov
Synesthesia lab in Peredelkino art residency.
Curators of Digital team: Aleksandra Gavrilova, Sergey Titov.
Used media:
Stone, vibration speakers, interactive environment made in vvvv gamma software, heating volumes, an aromatic composition of substrates (tar, nuts, sawdust, leaves, nearby river water, etc.).
The artwork title refers to the Japanese persistent statement "reading the air" which means "understanding the situation without words" or "sensing someone’s feelings". The project proposes a metaphorical correlation between reading and smelling. Smelling is inseparably linked with the interpretation of external stimuli as reading. Peredelkino is the writer’s village in the Moscow suburbs near the huge city park full of powerful smell substrates. An artwork interaction mechanic requires to find a correspondence between olfactory and haptic. Participants are asked to select a response in the form of vibration to an aromatic composition of substrates (tar, nuts, sawdust, leaves, nearby river water, etc.). These materials were collected in the Peredelkino environment, based on their sensations through a visual and tactile interface. Their responses are used for the training of machine learning algorithms in the realtime. The collected data allows the memory of multiple participants to be replicated through vibration via a technological object, transferring the experience of one sensory perception to the plane of another. Technological object consists of mossy stone with two connected vibrational dynamics. Stone is a metaphorical image of the hard fates and stories of Soviet writers. The stone can also be a witness to those events.

Instruction text:
Welcome to the air riding lab!
You are invited to match a smell with a tactile sensation. Follow the instructions on the computer.

1) place your left hand on the stone;
2) smell the odor;
3) hold down the left mouse button on the grey rectangle and control the vibration;
4) after finding a match between the smell and the vibration, release the mouse button and click on the "Record" button;
5) after 10 seconds, you will feel the vibrations recorded earlier by other participants.