Yuqing Liu

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My journey into the realm of olfactory interaction art is deeply personal and emotionally driven, inspired by my grandfather, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. As his memory began to fade, my grandfather’s perception of me remained fixed when I was a mere child of five or six, his cognitive functions and memories rooted decades back. Witnessing his steady decline, I realized that his memories were like sand slipping through my fingers, no matter how hard I tried to hold on. This inspired me to create a project for him, an attempt to preserve our shared memories, or at the very least, evoke some emotional response from him.

His sketchbooks from the time of his Alzheimer’s became my initial window into the human memory. Despite his condition, he tried to record fragments of his memories through his drawings. The sketchbooks were filled with hand-drawn maps of places he worked, stories from his youth, and the repeated writing of names of family and friends, including mine. These sketchbooks were a testament to his emotional state, reflecting his fear, his fight against forgetting, and his attempt to hold on to his life story. It moved me profoundly and fueled my determination to create.

But why choose scent as a medium for memory-triggering interaction design? My initial research focused on helping Alzheimer’s patients recall memories of their loved ones and past experiences through sensory stimulation. We live in a visually dominated world, overwhelmed with information that dulls our visual senses. I believed that by expanding our sensory perceptions, we could find a new way to understand and perceive the world. This led me to sensory memory, exploring which senses could directly trigger memories.

Scent stood out as one of the most direct sensory stimuli for triggering memories and emotions. Our olfactory senses have a unique and powerful connection to emotions, making experiences more memorable. From an interaction design perspective, scent offers a natural interactive material, its strong link to emotional memory providing further opportunities for designing memory retrieval and sensory interaction experiences. Additionally, scent is an intuitive sensory stimulus, accessible to most, including those who have lost their ability to care for themselves.

I believe scent is a vital sensory component for humans to perceive their environment, record emotions, and detect danger signals. As technology evolves and more fields explore interactions in virtual and mixed reality worlds, it is conceivable that humans might live between virtual and real worlds in the future. However, current sensory technology development in these realms is mostly limited to sight and sound, with little exploration of olfactory interactions in virtual spaces. I cannot imagine a future where humans, deprived of crucial senses in virtual worlds, face a crisis of degeneration. Therefore, I deem it essential to develop olfactory interactive experiences, and this belief shapes my artistic practice.

In essence, my work is a personal journey and a mission. It is rooted in love, loss, and the desperate desire to connect and preserve the intangible threads of memory that define us. Through the medium of scent, I strive to create experiences that are not only interactive but also profoundly emotional and resonant, tapping into the deepest recesses of memory and emotion.

“And suddenly the memory returns. The taste was that of the little piece of madeleine which on Sunday mornings at Combray (because on those mornings I did not go out before mass), when I went to say good morning to her in her bedroom, my aunt Léonie used to give me, dipping it first in her own cup of real or of lime-flower tea.” – Marcel Proust, "In Search of Lost Time" --Marcel Proust
Awakening: Scent Archive
Awakening: Scent Archive is an experimental scent interaction installation with performance and scent workshops as its main forms of expression. This project aims to explore the boundaries of human senses and existence, and the role of scent in awakening forgotten memories. According to the Proust effect, scent has the unique ability to instantly awaken previously forgotten but vivid, emotionally charged memories. Scent has a symbiotic presence with breath, and most of a human's emotional memories are stored in the sense of smell. I wanted to find a potential way to enhance that part of people's forgotten memories and thus deepen the perception of their self-existence. Link to the website: https://www.liuyuqing.co.uk/awakening-scent-archive-yuqing-liu
Work Credit: 
Individual project
VI-SCENT.Lab: Memory Archiving System
VI-SCENT.Lab_Memory Archiving System expands on my previous scent installation, where I collaborated with AI to visually transform the scent memories of exhibition visitors. To achieve this, I collected scent memories from the 24 scent samples provided by previous visitors, collated different memories of each scent, and extracted key words from their narratives. These keywords were then converted into AI prompts, combined with my artistic style and output format, to create virtual memory chips presented to new audiences in petri dishes. My goal was to explore whether the AI's level of representation of human senses and emotions could resonate with people, while completing the visual transformation of olfactory memories. Visitors to the exhibition can experience each scent sample and read scent memories from a year ago. The virtual memory chips, representing each scent memory, are viewed against the corresponding archive bag number and stored permanently for future use in scent-driven virtual environments. Link to the website: https://www.liuyuqing.co.uk/viscent-lab-memroy-archiving-system-yuqing-liu
Work Credit: 
Individual project
The Boiling Ocean: Scent Ritual Installation
The Boiling Ocean is a unique memorial and funeral ceremony created by the scent interactive artist, Yuqing Liu, in the United Kingdom for her grandfather. This innovative project uses the medium of scent to trigger memories and emotions associated with the past. Presented at the Koppel X Gallery in London from June 8 to 11, 2023, this exhibition not only served as a personal tribute to the artist's grandfather but also as an exploration of the power of scent and memory. The link to the website: https://www.liuyuqing.co.uk/the-boiling-ocean-yuqing-liu
Work Credit: 
Individual project
Lonely Patient
"Lonely Patient" is an interactive immersive- space dance light projection work. The closed environment and the strong light and shadow effect create an immersive space. By capturing the movement path of the human body through somatosensory equipment and transmitting the data to the computer, the actors collaborate with the visual images in the immersive space to create different emotional interpretations. This project uses abstract patterns, rhythmic lines, and staggered spatial transformation to show the audience the inner world of patients with different kinds of mental diseases. Link to the website: https://www.liuyuqing.co.uk/lonely-patient-yuqing-liu
Work Credit: 
Individual project
βios is a light projection installation that explores the combination of modern high-tech elements and original elements. With times moving at a rapid pace and the power of science gaining momentum, pristine ecology is an issue we are increasingly ignoring. The interests of society and a weakened sense of protecting nature have left many animals facing the test of survival within urban environments. Through this project, I hope to explore the combination of modern technology and original elements to create a new life force and advocate for people to protect natural ecology and animals. ​ This project is also a new attempt to combine technology and materials. I built a three-dimensional sculpture and used MadMapper to project different visual effects on the model. Link to the website: https://www.liuyuqing.co.uk/bios-yuqing-liu
Work Credit: 
Cooperation project

Yuqing Liu is a visionary olfactory interaction artist and immersive experience designer, renowned for her innovative approach to exploring the intricate relationship between human olfaction and memory. Utilizing cutting-edge technologies such as AR, VR, MR, and advanced hardware interactions, Liu delves into the impact of scent on memory preservation and formation within our living environments. Her passion extends to exploring the immense potential and practical applications of scent in triggering human memories.

During her postgraduate studies, Liu embarked on a journey into the realm of olfactory interactions, developing a comprehensive set of olfactory interaction design methodologies through rigorous experimentation. Her graduate project, an immersive olfactory interactive space, was met with widespread acclaim and featured at the UAL graduate exhibition in December 2021, subsequently earning a spot on the official school website.

In 2022, Liu expanded her role in the art and educational community, taking on the position of a lecturer in olfactory interaction art. She emphasized the transformative power of scent in memory recall and narrative construction, sharing her knowledge and insights through collaborations with educational institutions in China.

In 2023, Liu played a pivotal role in integrating olfactory art into Omega’s "Every Shade of You" immersive brand marketing experience, in partnership with scent studio xxx. She masterfully created five unique scents, enhancing the audience's engagement with the brand's new watch colors, and solidifying her position as a leader in experiential marketing.

Her artistic endeavors continued to flourish with the creation of "VI-SCENT.Lab_Memory Archiving System" and "The Boiling Ocean," both showcased in London-based artist exhibitions in 2023. These works attracted significant attention on social media platforms, further establishing Liu’s presence in the contemporary art scene.

As she stands at the inception of her journey as an art creator, Liu is optimistic about the future prospects and commercial opportunities in the field of olfactory interaction. With her extensive experience and research, she is poised to continue pushing the boundaries of scent, memory, and interactive art.


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