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JPICULTURE-Cultural heritage and global change

Climate Changes and Scent Heritage: The Urgent Need for Capturing and Preserving Olfactory Landscapes in a Changing World

Alternative title: Klimaendringer og duftarv: Viktigheten av å samle inn og bevare duftlandskap i en verden i endring

Awarded: NOK 4.6 mill.

As climate change changes our world, SCENTinel emerges as a project dedicated to preserving a crucial yet often overlooked aspect of cultural heritage: our olfactory landscapes. These scents, far more than simple fragrances, are key to our collective memory and identity, rooted in natural environments, rituals, and social customs. Amidst the rapid environmental shifts threatening these olfactory experiences, our interdisciplinary team, merging the frontiers of neuroscience, cultural studies, chemical engineering, and artificial intelligence, is starting a mission to capture, digitize, and preserve these endangered scents. Utilizing innovative AI-based tools, we're pioneering a novel approach to documenting and reproducing these vital olfactory experiences, paralleling the conservation efforts traditionally reserved for visual and auditory memories. We will identify and catalog significant scents across continents, aiming to encapsulate these aromas within a decentralized, secure database using artificial intelligence and NFT technology. This endeavor ensures the preservation of these scents and fosters a broader appreciation and understanding among the public, highlighting the significance of preserving our olfactory heritage. AI will model the olfactory experiences, and by using generative AI, we will uncover new chemical components capable of replicating these scents. This innovative approach ensures that future generations can enjoy these olfactory experiences, irrespective of the availability of current ingredients. As we navigate this journey, the project is more than a mere act of conservation; it is a call to recognize and protect the richness of human experience as conveyed through olfaction. We are crafting a resilient archive of our olfactory landscapes, ensuring that future generations can inherit and appreciate the full spectrum of human cultural heritage safeguarded against the backdrop of an ever-changing world and the climate change effect.

In a world impacted by climate change, our project focuses on preserving olfactory landscapes, a vital yet overlooked aspect of cultural heritage. These scents, integral to natural environments, rituals, and social customs, are key to our collective memory and identity. Facing threats from environmental changes, our interdisciplinary team aims to capture, digitize, and preserve these endangered scents, employing neuroscience, cultural studies, and advanced technology. Our innovative Artificial Intelligence-based tool will document and reproduce these scents, akin to methods used for visual and auditory heritage. This initiative leads to holistic cultural preservation, allowing future generations to experience this crucial, at-risk facet of human heritage. It's a significant step in safeguarding our shared history's rich olfactory dimensions. By preserving these scents, we maintain the stories and essence of diverse cultures. This project isn't just about protecting scents, but the richness of human experience conveyed through smell. We're developing cutting-edge digital techniques for analysis, digitization, and synthesis of scents, pioneering in addressing climate change's impact on olfactory heritage. This project highlights the importance of olfactory experiences in our history and identity, showing how they can be lost due to environmental changes. We're contributing to a deeper understanding and appreciation of cultural heritage, ensuring the full spectrum of human experience, including influential scents, is preserved for future generations.

Funding scheme:

JPICULTURE-Cultural heritage and global change