Susana Cámara Leret

An Organoleptic (An) Archive of NHS

2017 — 2019
Glass / Polished metal / Printed matter


︎︎︎ Fellowship at the Department of Clinical Neurosciences (DCN) — NHS Arts & Therapeutic Design programme, Edinburgh (UK)



or·gan·o·lep·tic | ˌȯr-gə-nō-ˈlep-tik


1 : being, affecting, or relating to qualities (such as taste, color, odor, and feel) of a substance (such as a food or drug) that stimulate the sense organs
organoleptic research
2 : involving use of the sense organs



Breathing is a shared act. We all breathe from the same air and, exhaling and inhaling, share aspirational practices. 

The research and work followed the treatment of tangled blood vessels in the brain, or arteriovenous malformations, through an embolisation procedure performed by the Neuroradiology team at Western General Hospital’s Department of Clinical Neuroscience. In this process, a glue-like substance is introduced into the brain which changes the smell of the breaths of both neuroradiologist and patient. As there is no “opening-up” of the body, the procedure leaves no visible scars and this so-called “Onyx smell”, which lingers in the wards after the intervention, is the only physical indicator of the operation that took place.

The main molecule responsible for this odour is also a key component in the smell of so-called “carrion flowers” and other vegetable bodies. Engaging with the sensory experiences of a community of neurosurgeons, patients and nurses, the work explores the use of smells as hyperlinks to consider experiences and relations between medical spaces and botanic gardens, once medicinal gardens.

Throughout this process, a sensory dialogue was developed with Joy Milne, the woman who is known to detect Parkinson’s disease through smell, and Alison Williams, a researcher who has PD herself.  Discussions were set-up around the smell of the disease, other ways of talking about the body and the hostility of the hospital suit vs. the patient’s experience. In April 2019, a symposium was held at Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh titled ‘Talking Bodies’ exploring other sense-able approaches to wellbeing. 





︎︎︎  Onyx breaths (2018)
Produced from patient and neuroradiologist breaths, following an AVM intervention


     
   
     

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2010 — 2020