A Culture of Human Cheese

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Sissel Tolaas

As a professional "in-betweener," Sissel Tolaas’s work focuses on smell, language, and communication while spanning science, art, and industry. She has identified the smell molecules in worn coats and covered the walls of an MIT gallery with chemically reproduced molecules from the sweat of men who suffer fear attacks. Tolaas’s projects combine aspects of the academic, the offensive, and the surreal.

Smell is one of those senses where context can play a huge role. A fine cheese and a dirty foot share the same molecular smells, yet one is a delicacy and other is repulsive. In an effort to toe the line on this attract/repulse interplay, artist and scent researcher Sissel Tolaas collected bacteria from people, and used it to make cheese. In away, she has created a line of personalized dairy products.

More videos from this series: Scents and Sensibilities