This spring, we were pleased to offer several grants to help support our students in sharing their research at the premiere conferences in their field. Below, KC Forcier reflects on her experience at SCMS this March.
I’m grateful to BCNM for its support, which made it possible for me to present my research at the 2017 Society for Cinema and Media Studies Conference in Chicago. I presented a paper entitled “Smell-O-Vision Then and Now: theorizing olfactory cinema,” which addresses the re-emergence of scent in moving picture exhibition. Scent raises questions about medium-specific aspects of the cinema, such as duration, the frame, and indexicality. I argue that theorizing smell provides a productive test case for thinking about the nature of mediation and representation and their relationship to the sensing body in an information age. As smell is one of the most technologically challenging sensory experiences to replicate/manipulate, olfactory media has potential as a site for thinking through the boundaries of the body and technology in a posthuman environment. This paper draws upon contemporary olfactory works – ranging from 4DX cinema, to digital scent players, virtual reality projects (The Feelreal mask, Project Nourished, the OhRoma pornographic VR mask) and olfactory art, such as works by Clara Ursitti, Sisel Tolaas, and Helga Grifiths.
Traveling to SCMS allowed me to present new work and gain valuable feedback on my research from scholars from around the world. Moreover, as the largest annual conference for my discipline, its an invaluable opportunity to be exposed to the breadth of research happening in my field today, and to make connections with peers at institutions around the country.