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HomeNumeri78OSMODRAMA – Theatre for the Nose


Chemosensory communication as a form of time-based performing art has occurred in form of ideas in literary fiction and in occasional concepts of art or entertainment in the past. The history of patents on devices for such purposes since the beginning of the 20th century is full of failures and abandoned approaches, mainly because of chemical, technical, social, or cultural misunderstandings. With the project Smeller, we started to realize an artistic performative practice of storytelling with distinct and rapid sequences of scents and smells, of and on during some thirty-five years. Only since 2012 could we introduce this practice with our novel technology Smeller 2.0 in public performances and enhance its possibilities ever since. Perfumistic algorithms can now generate endless variations of olfactory signals and smells, electronically controlled, and digitally composed for collective experience on a larger scale: Osmodrama. The practical application has soon ignited collaborations of neuroscientific research and therapeutical implementation with surprising discoveries. This essay is a personal review of the genesis and emergence of Osmodrama.

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teatro, naso, odore, performance, pratica
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1I grew up with my grandparents in Austria. My grandfather was a chemist. And there were other chemists, biologists, medics and engineers in the family. Although we were a modest household. They included me into their daily lives, kept me busy and they were happy with every question. They were asking me questions themselves, and I felt in the middle of all of this. There was always a lot of talk about substances and smells and there was the abundant domestic medicine chest for all the real health issues (as aftermaths of two world wars) and for perhaps imaginary illnesses on top of that. Occasionally my grandparents had to tidy up their stock of medicine, clean out and sort out expired pills, cough syrup, heart drops, things that have odours, all kinds of liquid substances, cleaning agents, body care products, wild home remedies components that needed to give way to succeeding new stuff.

2At the age of around four, five I guess, still in preschooling times, when they were in the midst of such a clean out, I asked them to give me the waste, so I could play with it. After a moment of hesitation they did, when I had told them that I just wanted to smell the bottles. They really gave them to me with the strict compliance to never even touch them with my lips. This was a very affirming early moment of deep trust. And of responsibility. So I got those things and I was only allowed to smell, not to eat them or drink them or lick at them or even touch them with my skin. I had already other bottles in which I had kept samples of spiced water, oil, my ‘magic tinctures’ and soon I played on my first self-made smell-panflute. Later I filled them in equal sized little bottles. I had pipettes and syringes and a little funnel. I could place the bottles in a row. And then I could open particular choices and change their position and move my head along the line above the open bottles while breathing through my nose. A few years later I had forgotten about it for a long time. But I think that was a key experience in my early childhood.

3This is to throw some highlights and sidelights on the complex endeavour of a new artistic practice or novel form of art, Osmodrama,1 to give it a name. Composing and performing scent-sequences in slow or rapid changes, discretely, distinctively, in fluent transitions or abrupt switches. This could not be practiced without the appropriate technology. The absolute prerequisite for Osmodrama, realized in an effort of research and development, became Smeller 2.0, a rather monstruous machine of cables, computers and digital controllers, pipe channels, valves, air flow elements and blowing units.2

Smell is a spell

4There are phenomena that put a particular spell on us, beyond being a puzzle or an unexplainable apparition. They could be haunting or revealing or both. Specially when it is in us and we are in it. Smell is such a phenomenon. It is immersive as music, but even more so, as we will see. And it is linked with memory, emotion and drive – so mysteriously direct.

5Often when we cannot really substantiate what we feel is true, we are tested once again, if trusting our intuition is justified, which would be just perfect. Not only taken for real under peer pressure or as another narrative, that is, being established collectively: the emperors’ new clothes.

6Among those captivating phenomena, it was the realm of sign language (of the deaf) and most importantly the kingdom of smells, that really got their grip on me, throughout my life, besides music, dance, film, literature and all the fine arts – and everything that can be used to make or break sense. “Signs and Scents”, as I am titling an artistic-semiotic-hermeneutic longterm project, evolved from both these communicating gravitational fields of ardent interest.

7Despite all odds, obstacles, ignorance or even disdain, the magic of sign language and that of odours was strong enough to steadily nourish my persistence in dwelling to these subjects unwaveringly, even though intermittently, for some thirty years.

8Both fields seemed to be almost blank areas in our cultural self-image, when I got into them with method. And both seemed to have an important distinction in common: sign language is likely to be the first language evolving in the early rise of the humankind. And the sense of smell must have been the first ‘sense’ that guided matter towards life itself: to identify molecular vicinities and react to them with attraction or rejection. Clusters of molecules with first most primitive forms of metabolism, presumably in an era of all kinds of gases around.

9We are looking back on four thousand years of music history, guessing there is much more and much earlier, on which it grew. But there is as much as no history of a corresponding art of kinetic time-based olfactory composing, a music or a theatre for the nose.

10When it came to the use of olfaction as its own system of time-based art, a mysterious osmophobia seemed to be one of the most obstinate hinderance for e.g. deciders in the art industry and in the cultural sector, to take it serious, to discover its potential.

11Although that has begun to change, it is still a succulent field to analyse and fathom the factors and reasons why we have renounced and deprived ourselves so deliberately from such a huge dimension as the deep space of olfaction so. If cultural misunderstandings and an intricate denial of the body can still be understood as deliberate.

12The domestication and adoption of the very synanthrope, the cultural follower wolf, that became our dog, to do the job of sniffing scents, tracks, preys and enemies, was already a process of outsourcing our sense of smell. An early acquisition of a sense-extension-instrument, above weapons and tools. Maybe we did not deign to go down to the ground with our noses once we stood high up on our two back legs to gaze into the vast distance of space, in our desire to know what awaits us from behind the horizon. That was already the deployment of a living prothesis. A guide-dog for the hard of smelling. Anosmia is the name for the blindness of the nose. That would be only a tiny fragment in the attempt to explain the audiovisual ghetto of modern civilization. We seem to have preferred the mediate to the immediate.

13One important quality of smell may be a reason to pardon the human reservation towards smell: seeing light is based on waves. Hearing sound is based on waves. But smelling odours and scents is based on particles, molecularly. The stuff we smell is analogue, real matter that we have to take in literally and completely to only perceive it. The moment we smell rotten flesh, it is already in our body. Smell is the sensation following an intrusion of actual material. And we do not want stuff entering our body without our explicit permission. Smell has been sadly neglected and treated as a step-sense. Many of the ancient and modern philosophers have repeatedly looked down on it and spoke e.g. of a lower sense. We have only quite recently begun to explore that there is more, something greater to it. It might be that we are overfed, overstrained, overstimulated by the hailing signals of an audiovisual century, topped by the first flush agony of the digital age and virtual reality coming along with pretty cold, flat, 3D-mocking models and images in front of the eye, artificial lures on an electronic surface hitting the retinas and eardrums of their recipients being washed up in waves.

14You smell the tiger, you smell the elephant, before you see it. Air carries the smell of a buffalo stampede over kilometers ahead with the wind. The fire behind the hill is smelled long in advance of sight. What a misunderstanding to call olfaction a near sense, together with taste and tactile perception – opposing seeing and hearing as far senses.

15Light is fast. Even sound is so much faster than an odour travelling from its source to the recipient. But yet, this odour is faster than light or sound in being realized and processed after contact with the perceiving body, as there are no thresholds of reason and judgement switched in between the smell and the brain as brokers.

16And these are our reflexes: good or bad. Fight or flight. Mate, eat, attack, ignore (hardly). Or an extra variant we share with numerous animals that is a fundament of art and of science too: play.

Getting serious

17Smell organs and olfactory cinema appeared in fiction and some real attempts of the 20th century got stuck in the fluffy morass of gimmick and prank and some magazine headlines before they disappeared.

18We are so good with technologies. But why don’t we long have a veritable organ as an instrument to play scents comparable to playing tones and sounds with a musical organ? In the 1980s my desire and phantasies became a strong vision. Thus, my plan to build a scent organ dates back all more than thirty years.

19All this time of intermittent experimenting, dreaming and ground testing was followed by a time of rather ground-breaking in this complex and sensitive glass bead game.

20Since 1979, after early years of olfactive installations with all kinds of material, steaming piles of organic stuff, or big circle parcours of scented cobble stones laid out on nose level to sniff along (and that in Ars Electronica, a festival of electronic arts), throwing trouts and flowers into the audience, frying fish at the foot of the conductor during a concert, piling wasted Christmas trees on stage and in the audience for another concert, piling fermenting coconut shells in an exhibition and so forth, I had developed the first mechanically controllable prototype for a scent organ, Smeller 1.0 (Fig. 1), displayed for the first time in 1996 at the Upper Austrian State Museum. It was a good opportunity to test and demonstrate the basic functioning of the idea. In this exhibition (Werk’Zeuge), the visitors were allowed to play their own composition with hand gears on a 30-channel-tubing system that had odours of food, drinks, technical installations, humans, animals, plants, elements to blend and compose freely.

21In the same year, I published the vision of Smeller 2.0 and described its functions in an art publication by the name of ‘Fächer’ on the occasion of a solo exhibition:

Smeller II will be a functional sculpture and a mobile instrument, a genuine organ, an olfactokinetic art device for composing, producing, interpreting, programming, recording, storing and playing back dramatic real-time compositions made up of hundreds of thousands of scents and scent chords, including a notation system for writing down scent ‘films’ by hand or as machine-readable script and the internet transmission of olfactive messages.

22It had taken another sixteen years to really have it ready and performing. No one wanted to invest or to curate or to support the idea. The logbook is full with notes on influential people that had turned the idea down, mostly with a mild smile.

23Without an instrument capable of reproducing and ‘musically’ mixing a constantly changing series of scents, the creation of an olfactory discipline, devoted to the dramaturgy of smells, would be unthinkable. Until now, no such instrument seems to have existed to exploit the vast potential inherent in such a discipline.

24In the course of numerous material trials and in collaboration with experts from the fields of climate technology, streaming engineering, chemistry, physics, perfume-making/olfactory science, architecture, and design, we finally developed an instrument to appeal with great artistic impact to the neglected but, due to its strong cross-connections to the unconscious, very significant sense of smell.

25On the basis of the experience gathered with that first version of 1996 and the research carried out in the meantime, the transmedia, interdisciplinary project Smeller 2.0 started in September 2011 (Fig. 2; Fig. 3). The first public deployment was at Sinnesrausch at the OK Center for Contemporary Art in Linz, Austria, a several-months exhibition geared for great public appeal (June-October 2012). This was the première of the Beta-version of Smeller 2.0 and it saw 77k visitors in four months. During this time, I uploaded the weekly programmes from my laptop in my lab in the Brandenburg forest, in the south-east of Berlin, into the museum in Linz.

26Geza Schön, the master perfumer from Berlin with his company Escentric Molecules3 became one of our fiercest and most committed supporters and collaborators. Without his unique perfumistic expertise the phantastic Smeller lift off would not have happened. He went ahead of and along with an impressive parade of unbelievably generous and determined sponsors who were further midwifes of the emerging novelty. They are all named separately on the Osmodrama website and they will always remain there.

Building Smeller 2.0

27In the past fifteen years before 2011, after many other exciting projects, many sign language projects among them, I had already let go the idea of building an electronic scent projector and thought, ‘ok, it must long be in the air already as a vision of our times. So, if I do not manage to raise the funds for building it, someone else will build it’. But surprisingly no one did.

28The opportunity of the invitation to create an anchor piece for that major theme expo Sinnesrausch (english translation could be ‘Sensory Sensation’ or ‘Rush of Senses’) was the propitious moment to gather all the trades, sponsors, and experts required. It was a feeling of now or never. That several-months exhibition geared for great public appeal. Incorporating the instrument’s debut in an exhibition of this scale and caliber made it an attractive proposition for the producers and suppliers of the required materials to act as sponsors or project partners.

29The plan was again and again reformulated and communicated: to create a unique prototype suitable for practically articulating the idea of an olfactory-dramatic art, olfactory poetry, in a ‘synosmic’ (vs. symphonic) mode of writing and parallel real-time performance/presentation close to the audience, thereby opening up a practical cultural field for experimentation and experience. The prevailing conditions now seemed favorable for making this long-cherished concept and development a physical reality.

30In our team we were more and more a beehive in the weeks before the opening. We turned the museum into a wharf. Trucks came with the material. Experts flew in by plane. The dynamic accelerated. In the end a team of up to twenty people lived in the museum for weeks. All these unforgettable collaborators and wonderful personalities are listed under ‘credits’ on the Osmodrama website and the Smeller website and I love pointing at them.

31All the issues were now switched on show time. All the theoretical solutions had to find a quick outcome in practice now.

32The keyboard or another interface; the choice of basic materials to allocate to the keys of the keyboard; the scale of elements or smell components; the software; the digital analogue converter; the valves; reliable high-quality seals.

33Endless. And all the esthetical and artistic questions became big again: harmony; chaos theory; game theory.

34What does it take, composing moving scents with such a machine?

35With the scent organ, hundreds of thousands of scents can be played in place of music notes. It is made to exude pure music for the nose, in real time – abstract or narrative, besides offering further possibilities to combine and commingle them with sound, image, film, theater or dance.

36The Smeller 2.0 project encompassed the production of hardware, of the control software, of the notation system, of the scent sources (basic components), of olfactokinetic scent compositions (synosmies).

37The artistic, cultural and psychological effects and the import of a functioning olfactory performance and recording system can be experienced with the realization of this apparatus, paving the way to become even more systematic and to be further developed as a new discipline for artistic articulation and interdisciplinary plexus.

38The planning and then the act of building and assembling everything, and the discourse on composing, all this required a full growing set of its own terminology:

  • Osmodrama: the art form of composed scent sequences as a standalone or in conjunction with other time-based forms of art

  • Osmodrome: the customized venue, in which Osmodrama can be performed

  • Synosmy: a compact composition of scent sequences

  • Scentence or Smellody: subunits of a synosmy; a candenza or just a smaller sequence as a component of the whole synosmy

  • Odience: the audience of Osmodrama

  • Onsmeller: the equivalent to the onlooker spectator or listener

39And from there, further terms like: synosmic, osmodramatic, osmokinetic.

40Also for parts of the hardware Smeller 2.0 itself, terms had to be created: whiffmouth (‘Daisy’), source-chamber, central beam.

41Meanwhile it could fill a little dictionary.

42The hardware became a rather monstrous, but beautiful machine, getting its form purely by following function (Fig. 4). The dynamically changing scents or compositions by scent chords fed into the room are created through the electronic control of sixty-four separately adjustable air streams – in the source chambers of which the corresponding scent sources are stored as props for the realization of the ‘moving scent pictures’ (Fig. 5) – blown into the space via electronically controlled valves in the correct, complex sequence and combination. A stream of homogenous fresh air flows through the room at signaling speed, conveying the constantly changing scent and odor nuances and chords evenly throughout the room, and finally leaving the room again with them in tow. There is no build-up or undesirable mixing in the temporal sequence of the changing chords. The complete ambient air is exchanged one-two times per minute.

43The air channels, fed by pipe blowers (Fig. 6), end in the ‘whiff mouth’ (Fig. 7), in which the scent concoctions are conducted through a perforated steel wall (with approximately twenty thousand holes) out of the slightly overpressurized hall pressure chamber as a piston flow into the contained space of the Olfactorium or Osmodrome. The control hardware consists, among other things, of a midi keyboard, a computer, digital-to-analog converters, relays, midi adapters, and corresponding ports and cable trees for the electronically controllable magnetic valves, or organ flaps.

44The control software runs on a conventional computer, functioning similarly to the sampling software used in music and sound processing, with multi-track timelines and their editing. The software is a finished or programmed product for recording and playing back dynamically modulated scent sequences. Compositions of any length can be input, recorded as midi files, saved, archived and played back. The files can also be transmitted via the internet.

45With the specially developed notation system, scents can be written down as music notes and hence composed into chords, ‘(s)melodies’ and rhythms. The scent notes for the time-based medium Smeller 2.0 can be saved in machine-readable form in the midi data format developed for music, and then subjected to the same editing processes familiar from music. The keys on the keyboard play the scents (the basic odor components deployed) that are assigned to the notes (Fig. 8). In the end, scents blossom forth and odors stream out instead of tones (except for the interesting operating noises).

46The compositions might be short mood pictures, abstract chords, or long, evening-length ‘stories’, performed either live according to scores or improvised by scent organists, or in longer programs or non-stop operation played back from the hard disks archived compositions via the Smeller 2.0 as organ and playback/end device, which out of 8x8 basic scents can create a variety of smells numbering 2 to the power of sixty-four, in theory. The scent sources are developed, mainly in liquid form, in collaboration with perfume-makers, food chemists, and manufacturers of aromas and flavors. The hardware permits the use of scent sources in any aggregate state. In tests, the scents will be noted down in octagonal matrices and the schemes for compositions developed by drawing colored connecting lines across the eight-cornered fields (Fig. 9). Small samples can form the building blocks for longer compositions. The sequence and time intervals (perhaps rhythms) between changes in the smells, whether abrupt or gradual, are the decisive factors for the quality of the composition (Fig. 10) besides the choice of smell elements itself.


47When we talk about entering semantic fields with sequences of smells we face the question: what is semantic to it? What is a sentence of scents?

48To illustrate that verbally it is comparably the easiest with naturalistic figurative concrete smells: horse – leather – gunpowder – blood – rotten flesh – earth. That is a possible ‘scentence’. With or without the context of words or images. Grass – flowers – gasoline engine exhaust – cut grass – hay. That is another.

49In 2012 I created narrative scent sequences (also along with sounds crafted by passionate soundartists) such as:

  • “A Childhood”

  • “House Fugues”

  • “Miniatures”

  • “Mountain Time”

  • “The Caravan”

50An excerpt from “A Childhood” is for example a movement entitled “My First Circus”, in which the smells of popcorn, nuances of tiger urine, elephant droppings, litter for animal cages, cotton candy, sawdust, sweat, caramel apples, horse stalls, leather and various other notes swell and reside again, or flow into one another.

51NO(I)SE was the first native olfactory movie I made for Smeller 2.0 and premiered during the film festival Crossing Europe 2013. That film is a poetic declension of the ingredients that make a movie, but just with sequences and transitions of monochromic colour tables from black till white, and with sounds from mute till multilayered and loud, and with sequences of scents from nothing via fragrance to stench.

52In a particular scene we see variants of green along with synced variants of green smells: mint – green pepper – spring onion – leek – ground ivy – grass. While the green colour of the grass turns yellow, the grass smell turns into the smell of hay. That is a strong experience of synchronicity. And again, of a ‘scentence’.

53When we premiered with the scent-synced version of Edgar Reitz’ cineastic masterpiece “Home from Home” during the Osmodrama Festival 2016 in his presence, we had a scent-track for the whole three hours of the film epos about the mass exodus of almost a million German peasants and workers in the mid-19th century fleeing from poverty, infant mortality, suppression, diseases, into the dream of a new world: Brazil.

54In the first scene of this film in black and white, an old mare is trotting tiredly along the main street towards the camera, almost into the camera. Within seconds the whole cinema smells like horse. The horse turns and walks away. The smell of horse is gone. In the next scene a peasant father kicks out his son, because he is always reading instead of working. The boy lands in the dung and hay heap in front of the door together with his book. We smell the dung and the hay. Now the son runs away out of the village into the forest. We smell the earth, mushrooms, resin of pine trees, greenery. The boy takes place on the rock and continues to read out loudly in a book by Alexander von Humboldt on life in the Amazon rainforest. Simultaneously we smell the jaguar, monkeys, wet black soil, exotic fruits, swamp.

A universal olfactory paintbox

55The system for the basic smell components follows the idea of a universal olfactory paint box: which smells do I need for the greatest variability and combinatorics to ‘paint world’? This led to a canon of sixty-four scent sources, components that contain a representative choice of smells in evolution from the beginning of life until today: water, sea, brackish water, swamp, bog, reeds, earth, mildew, mushrooms, resins, greenery, animals, droppings of animals, body smells, beverages, food, fruits, vegetables, technical smells (computer, copy machine, elevator, motor, subway, airplane, car, railway, etc.), civilizational smells (clubbing, incense, public pool, fragrances, dishes, body care products), stenches of decay and decomposition, asf. Water, soap, burnt cable and short circuit become pressing iron and washing machine. Cotton candy and tiger sweat become circus or zoo. A melon and a wet dog can carry the odour of a riverbank.

56Osmodrama is painting images behind the eye. Sequences of smells in semantic orders and allocations. I smell the horse where no horse is in sight.

57I call it the analogue virtual: real molecules entering the body eliciting the whole reference of something that is not there as the complete original. Music and literature come close to this principle. Pointers driving imagination to imagine the image.

58Smell theatre is text theatre. This turns out at the latest on the attempt to articulate complex odors lingually after the experience and sensation. A delicious game in the round dance of concepts and terms, that we have to create in bridging and bypassing a field that has a poor vocabulary, at least in our modern industrial society.

59There is no scale with eight or twelve basic tones as in music. There are no three basic smells as the three basic colours red-green-blue in the video image.

60It is only molecules that we take in when we are in the Osmodrome. It is particles, not waves. With sixty-four basic smell components we have more blending combinations possible than the planet has atoms, theoretically.

Osmodrama 2016 – The Festival

61I had given a lecture and a performance on dance with scents already a year before in the Berlin Radialsystem V in 2015 – Scents and Dance – within ‘Dialogic Movement’, a format for modern dance. My dancer then was Florencia Lamarca from the Sasha Walz Company. That was an abstract exercise.

62With Osmodrama – Festival for Olfactive Art, Smeller 2.0 came to Berlin in 2016, financed by the Ernst Schering Foundation, sponsors, crowdfunding, and tickets sold at the box office, in cooperation with Berliner Festspiele, the Berlin Festival, Radialsystem V, the Internationales Literaturfestival and others (Fig. 11).

63Twelve weeks of public experiments with Osmodrama as a standalone discipline and in combination with music, literature, sound art, film. Twelve premières and a daily non-stop program from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day. A dense program with great artists involved, e.g. Edgar Reitz, Omer Fast, Eva Mattes, Carl Stone, among many others.

64Phill Niblock, a composer from New York (fellow of the generation Philip Glass and Steve Reich) gave me his drone piece “Baobab” and I wrote a scent-drone sync-track for it.

65That festival was kind of a break-through into a next orbit of recognition.

66And it brought the second award for Osmodrama. The “Art and Olfaction Award/Sadakichi Award” for experimental work with scents.

67And it led to the next station: Martin Gropius Bau 2018 in Berlin.

Martin Gropius Bau 2018 – Leaving the audiovisual space

68Thomas Oberender, the director of the Berlin Festival Berliner Festspiele, curated a major exhibition in Martin Gropius Bau 2018 together with the biennale and documenta artist Tino Sehgal: Welt ohne Aussen (World with no Outside) – Immersive Spaces since the 1960s. Big installations, big names, thousands of visitors again. Osmodrama had the honour to represent the presence or the future in it, as it is that kind of immersive installation leaving the audiovisual space.

69I composed and performed “Quarter Autocomplete – Evolution in 12 Minutes”, a pure Synosmy, in which the Odience experienced seventy-two distinct changes of smells within twelve minutes.

70The installation and the piece were very successful and for me personally a huge experience in many ways. We conducted about two hundred interviews with visitors of Osmodrama about their experiences. The material is still not completely evaluated until today. But the most interesting ‘side effect’ of that exhibition was a clinical study with rather sensational results.4

From curating to curing: First scientific study on the potential therapeutic effects of Osmodrama

  • 5 IZRS - Interdisciplinary Center for Smell and Taste, at the University clinic in Dresden (Prof. Dr. (...)

71Empirical findings suggested that Osmodrama, besides its artistic impact, also has a potential therapeutic effect – at least with anosmia (loss of smell) and depression. Therefore Smeller 2.0 and Osmodrama were subject of a scientifically controlled, evidence-based study,5 during the regular exhibition at Martin Gropius Bau 2018. Subject to the research was the effect of Osmodrama via Smeller 2.0 on individuals with symptoms of anosmia, respectively “the effect of smell-training among natural everyday conditions on the sense of smell and on the olfactory capacities”. The recurrently presented Synosmy “Quarter Autocomplete – Evolution in 12 Minutes” served as the training system under the regular performance conditions designed for the exhibition.

72The evidence-based study on the potential therapeutic effects of Osmodrama on individuals with depression – empirical data are again shedding light ahead here – has been withheld and will be conducted separately.

73The study spanned over four weeks, during which the test subjects experienced the Osmodrama “Quarter Autocomplete” as regular visitors with season tickets for a duration of thirty to sixty minutes per day. These subjects underwent in-depth medical-scientific examinations and screening tests before, during and after this period.

74The results of the study are exciting insofar as forty-four percent of the patients showed a clinically significant improvement in the sense of smell. This effect is not to be confused with aromatherapy.

75Other studies are in preparation, in which – also inspired by empirical data – further beneficial effects of Osmodrama on the brain will be investigated:

  • Increase of the intelligence of children

  • Measurable growth of brain mass

  • Improvement of several symptoms of dementia

  • Improvement of several symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease

76All of these findings are surprising neurological byproducts of an artistic endeavour, that aimed at creating technical conditions for the development and establishment of an unprecedented time-based art of ‘storytelling’ with distinct scent-sequences in fast motion.

77At the end of the evaluation phase, I received an email from Thomas Hummel, who conducted and supervised the collaborative study: ‘Dear Wolfgang, your Smeller is a remedy now.’

  • 6 See Mahmut et al. 2020.

78The evidence-based study, conducted more or less clandestinely, showed significant therapeutic effect on the group of patients that were screened after regular exposure to the Osmodrama “Quarter Autocomplete – Evolution in Twelve Minutes”. Forty-four percent of all patients with anosmia got their sense of olfaction back where it was lost or improved their smelling-abilities where they were poor. After three months, the rate was still twenty-eight percent; the results of the study were published in our paper in the “Journal of Sensory Studies” in January 2020.6

79Recently we have submitted for another consecutive clinical study on the therapeutical impact of Osmodrama on individuals with symptoms of depression. Empirically it already seems that the symptoms of common forms of depression can be diminished under exposition of Osmodrama over a certain period of time due to a veritable reanimation of emotions on a conscious and subconscious level.

80I found it remarkable that Osmodrama, the attempt to develop the technology for a new art form, is now being thought and discussed aloud, whether it should be acknowledged by health insurances. Depression cured by non-pharmaceutical therapy. It might take time to bring it through, but this is promising, to put it mildly.

Smeller 3.0

81Smeller 2.0 is not a space craft yet, but a first aircraft into the world of theater of scents. And Smeller 1.0 from 1996 was a pioneering first vehicle. As a projector or device compared with a computer screen it is still not the retina display. But it is already more than the first rattling celluloid film projectors of the first days.

82We have begun to work on Smeller 3.0 with a higher capacity, smaller size, easier installation, again advanced technologies aiming at next steps of stupendous possibilities, involving artificial intelligence, evaluation of big data on smells, virtual reality, computer assisted and algorithmic composing of sequences, more research on medical and neuroscientific issues and of course standalone works and cinema.

83It will take time, but it will never stop. And again, it is just a beginning.

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1 See the official website of Osmodrama:, and, for some videos of performances:

2 See

3 See

4 See

5 IZRS - Interdisciplinary Center for Smell and Taste, at the University clinic in Dresden (Prof. Dr. Thomas Hummel) in cooperation with the ENT-clinic of the Charité Berlin (Prof. Dr. Florian Uecker) and with the ENT-Center Kudamm in Berlin (Prof. Dr. Önder Göktas).

6 See Mahmut et al. 2020.

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Notizia bibliografica

Wolfgang Georgsdorf, «OSMODRAMA – Theatre for the Nose»Rivista di estetica, 78 | 2021, 112-131.

Notizia bibliografica digitale

Wolfgang Georgsdorf, «OSMODRAMA – Theatre for the Nose»Rivista di estetica [Online], 78 | 2021, online dal 01 février 2024, consultato il 15 juin 2024. URL:; DOI:

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