OdorV-Art: An Initial Exploration of An Olfactory Intervention for Appreciating Style Information of Artworks in Virtual Museum

Shumeng Zhang, Ziyan Wang, You Zhou, Hao Cui, Shihan Fu, Zeyu Wang, Mingming Fan
The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (Guangzhou)


Style information, such as tone, mood and genre of artworks is important for museum visitors to appreciate them better. However, such information can be challenging for non-art specialists to comprehend in the short period that they view artworks. The sense of smell is instrumental for humans to assist their image memory, color, emotion and shape association. However, it is rarely used in the appreciation of artworks. Taking Western landscape painting as an example, this research explores the following research questions (RQs): 1) How does the intervention of the sense of smell improve the acquisition of style information in paintings? 2) How does the intervention of the sense of smell enhance the immersion in painting appreciation? To answer RQs, we first recruited seven art specialists to participate in a co-design workshop to design a prototype of the virtual museum with olfactory intervention. We then conducted an experiment with 12 non-specialists who viewed several paintings in the VR museum while being exposed to olfactory stimuli that were designed to be correlated with style information of the paintings. We found potential effects of smell stimuli on enhancing the perception of style information for non-art specialists. Moreover, we found that olfactory intervention has both positive and negative impacts on immersiveness. Finally, we provide design implications for future virtual museum design with olfactory stimuli.

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