in the exhibition ‘A Modernity Which Forgets’ Festival of Ideas, Cambridge 2015, and outcome of the project Gropius’ Impington.

Most of the research for the exhibition focused on the historical moment of the Chivers’ family farm and jam business funding the Gropius’ project by donating the land and paying for part of its design by the Bauhaus Architect, with the condition that the education programme would be open to its workers. In particular by looking for more information about who they might have been, it became apparent how such an important business in the interwar period attracted people from around the region, country as well as overseas. In a journal published by the Chivers’ business a series of anecdots form a picture of a community created around the business, the identity of each person defined by their position within it. The war was also inevitably cause of growth for the local population as evacuees from London and Europe found their home in Impington, some 7000 children were sent to leave London a portion of whom came to find a new home in the coutryside, and study in Impington. But a lot of the information about their identities is missing, from the historical archives, like mnemonic lacunae.

During the Cambridge Festival of Ideas (2015) the program Cologni devised Gropius’ Impington, modernism and power, art and the rural opens up a debate on the importance of the connection between people and places, and the construction of memory, cultural (monuments) and communicative memory (live interaction, Assman). According to Paul Connerton (2009) this connection may be institutionalised, as in the case of the memorial monuments, such as architecture, but it is in often apparently anonymous places, experienced through the individual’s and everyday’s bodily actions that the individual’s memory’s grid is founded. Through the memories that these places evoke the individual can domesticate the surrounding world. However, Modernity has imposed a frantic pace to the transformation of human environments. The result is that memorials and architecture last, but the common, anonymous places that are the individual’s loci of memory (Connerton 2009) are often altered beyond recognition. In particular, with the continuous process of urbanisation of the countryside, an abstract ideal of the rural is often nurtured by our memories of how familiar places used to be.

‘The paradox of a culture which manifests so many symptoms of hypermnesia and which yet at the same time is post-mnemonic is a paradox that is resolvable once we see the causal relationship between these two features. Our world is hypermnesic in many of its cultural manifestations, and post-mnenonic in the structures of the political economy. The cultural symptoms of hypermnesia are caused by a political-economic system which systemically generates a post-mnemonic culture – a Modernity which forgets.’

Gropius’ Offcuts, the sculptures as architecture off-cuts of unused spaces between the bay windows at the front of the Gropius building, occupy the space of a crouched body, and are moved around the site, as from her drawings.

Cologni’s response is symbolically in memory of all people whose nomadic way of living inevitably shows paradoxes like cherishing their memories, while also erasing part of them to make room for new ones in the encounter of a new place.

more here

Acknowledgements. This residency and project is being supported by: Impington Village College, The East Anglian Film Archive, Cambridge Central Library Special Collections, Chivers’ Pensioners Association Histon and Impington Viallage Association, CIAN University of Cambridge, Cambridge Festival of Ideas, funded through the Arts Council of England Grants for the Arts scheme.



2012, at Wysing Arts Centre, curated by Elionor Morgan with participants (here Becky, Elionor, Elisabeth) event of exhibition Wysing Arts Contemporary: Recollect 

Helena Blaker in coversation with Elena Cologni at Wysing Arts Centre

2012, MK Gallery, Curator Simon Wright

2013, Bergamo Scienza, Italy,  in conversation with Caterina Albano


This event is based on the multidisciplinary approach of Elena Cologni’s current project Rockfluid, where site specific art practice is underpinned by elements of geography, cognitive psychology and philosophy.

To walk through places involves kinesthesia, memory and our awareness of where we are in any given present moment. SPA(E)CIOUS is a form of collaborative peripatetic practice, where produced and shared knowledge informs the artist’s  creative process. For participants, it creates the physical and psychological conditions to enhance an awareness of the perception – and illusion – of time and space in the present. Cologni inserts a variable element of interference in our experience, which varies every time Spa(e)cious takes place (e.g. an unstable platform). As the series develops from this, a dialogue with art critic  and film maker Helena Blaker also shapes the contextualisation of the outcomes.




Arts Council England

University of Cambridge





Mnemonic Present, Un-Folding #3, 2005, video live installation (3 projectors + 1 live video feed+ 2 video delay video feed + 3 screens + paper + 2 trestles) Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Bergamo

This is one of the 2 versions of the piece presented in 9 venues, and part of the project PRESENT MEMORY AND LIVENESS IN DELIVERY AND RECEPTION OF VIDEO DOCUMENTATION DURING PERFORMANCE ART EVENTS, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, and conducted as post doctoral Research Fellow at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, University of the Arts London.


action: I fold the paper, stop, recollect and describe places I lived in

projections: the three live projections are live feed with a progression of 8 second delay


…. #3 was presented and supported by Alessandro Rabottini and presented by Giacinto di Pietrantonio, then Director of the GAMeC Museum, who stated

‘Her work, combining various techniques and artistic practices, aims at analyse the relationship between memory and past not only through the use of the sense of sight, but also trying to stimulate the multiplicity of the senses of our body, referring to the totality of the human being. A human being looking for the sense of life within the places of life, places activated or re-activated through art. In this sense, she belongs to that thread of research proposed by artists like Bruce Nauman, whom, in the relationship technique-body-action-psyche, wants to understand the the essence of beings within a world where there is the need to reactivate archaic energies and react to the superficial society of spectacle’


Performance Transcript (translation from Italian)

The spoken text (as is all following italics) alternates with the action:

the main entrance with a glass door and steel, the yellow glass door

Action: folding the stripe of paper from either sides

As I walk in on the right a staircase two flights

Action: folding the stripe of paper from either sides

Walking up the stairs, on the right a door to the bedrooms, through the door on the left a bedroom, on the right another one, on the left the bathroom and in front of me a bedroom

Action: folding the stripe of paper from either sides

With an orange carpet, two beds very low in relation to this massive white wardrobe with golden reliefs

Action: folding the stripe of paper from either sides

That wardrobe, before going to bed at night, would get enormous and I had the impression of it being like a wideangled photograph falling over me, it isn probably just a dream, and not even so

Action: folding the stripe of paper from either sides

My bed was next to the window, my sister’s close to the door

Action: folding the stripe of paper from either sides

Norsi Isola D’elba

At the top of the stairs a door to the left, as I walk in on the right the living room

Action: folding the stripe of paper from either sides

Where the was a sofabed on the right the television, a table in the middle, a small balcony in front of it, then going tot eh left a room with two ..beds, three of us used to sleep in there

Action: folding the stripe of paper from either sides

Walking out of our room on the left there was a bathroom and ahead my parents’ room with awindow onto the balcony with a beautiful seaview

Action: folding the stripe of paper from either sides

77th Street Upper East Side

Action: folding the stripe of paper from either sides

A three floor townhouse, walking in there is a staircase in front going tot the first floor, on the right hand side the entrance door,

As I walk in there is a large empty space, a folding bed in the corner, in front of me a door tp a bedroom without the bed and there is a bathroom,

on the left of this room  there is a bowindow connected to the upper floor from where you can look down

Action: folding the stripe of paper from either sides

This large room have green walls and to walk up to the upper floor one has to go out and walk up stairs where there is another big room which I believe is now the living room

Action: folding the stripe of paper from either sides

I can’t remember the walls’ colour

Entering through the main door of the upper floor in front of it there is the kitchen,

a lot of space, my own space is tiny

Action: folding the stripe of paper from either sides

Lincoln Square

Action: folding the stripe of paper from either sides

A very tall building, as I walk in I go straight to the elevator andto the 8th floor, out of the elevator: on the right the main door, walking in on the left the very small kitchen with things I don’t know  and in front the living room with a sofabed and a table for eating

Action: folding the stripe of paper from either sides

On the left, no on the right of the hallway there is a bedroom with roughly half a metre around the bed and on the left…. there is the bathroom with shower curtains with  ehhm… the shower has got a transparent plastic shower curtains with little fish and sea waves

Action: folding the stripe of paper from either sides

Warren Street, Warren Street

A five floor townhouse with no lift, as I walk in the staircase is… red carpeted, walking up to the fifth floor, the door on the right, very small corridor, the first door on the left is the, the first on the right is a studio and bedroom,the second on the right is my bedroom, in i ton the left there is a fitted wardrobe with no doors, but a curtain hiding what’s behind, on the right a comfortable bed, and two windows overlooking the street, very noisy, walking out there is a living room with a kitchen

Action: folding the stripe of paper from either sides

…a little old

Action: folding the stripe of paper from either sides

Going back to my room from the living room and on the left there is a bookcase and two stones: one is a quartz and the other has got a blur which looks like a sunflower

Action: folding the stripe of paper from either sides



Arts and Humanities Research Council (Grant for Creative and Performing Arts)



Views from above, video installation (Northumberland Telescope) + text installation (3 paper publications, Hoyle Foyer library)
‘Limits of Seeing – Views from Above & Below’  @Institute of Astronomy, Sat 23rd June 2012,  organised by Visualise in collaboration with the Institute of Astronomy, the Science & Technology Faculty at Anglia Ruskin and Wysing Arts Centre. Participating artists will include heath bunting, Liliane Lijn, Marina Velez and Russell Cuthbert, Elena Cologni & Susie Olczak and participating scientists will include Dr Joao Linhares, Matilda Biba and Gerry Gilmore, Professor of Experimental Psychology, Institute of Astronomy.
Curated by Bronac Ferran, Carolin Crawford and Elinor Morgan.
Limits of Seeing, exhibition information , extract
Cologni claims (since her PhD, 2004) that her art research is part of the critique to the ocular-centric discourse within western philosophy, with reference to Martin Jay. Yet, the fascination she has for perception and its psychology, and geometry (all linked to the primacy of vision) is a recurring aspect in her enquiry. Her critical position is manifested through overturning given assumptions therein by adopting paradoxical formats,including: juxtaposing visual perception with physical positioning in space, drawing’proto-geometric’, non-exact shapes, setting up contradictory researchhypotheses. In this context ‘views form above’ is linked to her current project ROCKFLUID,residency at the Faculty of Experimental Psychology, Cambridge University, and it is built around a need to make the viewer aware of the space proximal to the body. This in relation to a technology driven life where most of us become increasingly familiar with (and hooked into) the views form above (GPS, Google earth,NASA satellites). A way to feel in control, by locating ourselves in the world,which Cologni parallels to renaissance perspective systems, whereby the central focus perspective represents man, but also God, the eye is God. Telescopes were built applying optics and perception studies and while telescopes offer a ‘view from below’ outwards in the universe Cologni’s work creates a critical context where the above connections become apparent.



is the outcome of a residency at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in 2009. The resulting drawings and related sculptures are based on various maps of the place, and mark the process to devise a route for the performance journey and those elements brought into the conversation, to generate an overlapping of physical and conceptual contexts. The one to one performances can therefore also be seen as the act of drawing in the landscape as artist and audience move through it. More details here.


Conversation drawings: possibilities, (graphite on paper, 35×50 cms)

stills form video documentation
Conversations (open) (series of 10, graphite on paper, 60 x 80 cms)
Conversations (open), balsa wood (series of 10, 6 x 15 cms)

Acknowledgements. Many Thanks to Oliver Brown for liaising with the participants and supporting the project throughout; to the participants: Anna, Angie, Alan, Jo, John, Jeremy, Lesley, Lewis, Libby, Sally; rickshaw: Francis.

Geomemos was awarded the Grants for the Arts and  supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, the Heritage Lottery Fund, York Saint John University and the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.




2008, Centre for Contemporary Art, Glasgow international 08, Glasgow

Structure and piece for CCA. The two way corridor structure shown in the pictures is for a one-to-one mediatised performative installation and is designed as a site specific by making sense of the history of the place and people it is presented to. The work’s meaning is constructed together with the audience’s participation in it.  The interaction over a period of 3 days and the information recorded and played back. These will be between 12-1, 2-3, 4-5, 6-7, allowing for 4 people per hour (booking organised accordingly). The environment is an mdf/wood structure. Two small corridors of 1 x 2 mts each (2 mts high), the partition in the middle would have to raised from the floor of a couple of centimeters to allow for cabling to go through. The two corridors are: one for myself and one for a member of the public. We were sited in front of a screen connected to a camera recording and playing back our own delayed mirror image. At times this was  interfered by selected footage about collapsing/rising buildings in Glasgow (National Library of Scotland and Scottish Screen Archive kindly provided video footage). During the dialogue with a member of public I asked questions such as: what is memory? what are you looking at now? and they overlapped aspects of the past with their experience of the present.

Technical. The following equipment were used: 2 video cameras (high definition minidv), 2 monitors, 2 video delay systems, 1 dvr, 1 video switch, 1 video splitter. Microphones to record to cameras.


further documentation





2002, interactive installation (scented piramids + macs + projector), Lethaby Gallery, Central St.Martins, College of Art & Design, London (here with fav participant: Paola Cologni)

DRAWING SCENTS: some observations (2003)

In Drawing  Scents, I investigate the association between smells with memory, and place to interrogate on presence and absence. I would like stimulate the viewers’ imagination, as they will select a colour in relation to the smells I have chosen and presented. The installation contains all elements I was hoping to be able to include in a work: narrative, interaction aiming to final creative output, this to change the contexts conditions.

It is designed in the following way: a number of sources of smell are placed along the wall. Next to each one a touch screen with a number of colours (sounds).  On the wall in front of it a screen shows the update of the generated outcome depending on the audience feedback.

The work functions through stages in relation to the participant’s behaviour: fruition (perception through smelling); participant’s feedback through association with colour among a given selection; the participant’s choice is connected to a series of parameters to implement a graphic program; Those parameters take shape on the digital screen behind the perceiver in the form of a colour: The colour fills the space and will influence the next participant’s reaction.

The audience response was the averaged after the exhibition, the RGB information of the selected colours over the period of the exhibition[1] was: 140, 116, 118.

The installation will be presented to an audience in a different country where the different reactions to the same olfactory stimuli will be translated into a different colour. In this sense the reaction is never explained, its illustration becomes part of the work itself in the form of a printed monocrome photographic piece.

Visual/olfactory memory and memorable emotions

Our sense of smell is something that many of us take for granted, but odours do indeed have an effect on our daily lives. Imagine what it would be like walking into a movie theatre or a bakery and not being able to smell each of their distinct odours. Or what if you couldn’t smell the flowers in the spring or the smell of a brand new book. The sense of smell adds a richness to our lives that we aren’t always conscious of, but as soon as it’s taken away it dramatically changes our quality of life.

In primitive times smell protected our primitive ancestors from predators and helped them find food, but today we still rely on it more than we think: smell affects many aspects of life such as attraction, memories, and emotions. The purpose of this text is to mention some of the implications involved in the delivery of the piece Drawing Scents; the piece poses questions regarding the sense of smell, particularly the relationship between olfactory memory and visual memory, without though aiming to find scientific answers.

It’s enough to think how easily we perceive a smell and suddenly remember an event or person forgotten for years, to understand the connection between olfaction and memory. This section will describe odour memory, which refers to both memory for odours and memories that are evoked by odours.

It is first important to understand the physiology of olfaction. Rachel Herz Ph.D., a psychologist at Brown University, illustrates that the primary olfactory cortex, in which higher-level processing of olfactory information takes place, forms a direct link with the amygdala and the hippocampus. Only two synapses separate the olfactory nerve from the amygdala, which is involved in experiencing emotion and also in emotional memory[2]. In addition, only three synapses separate the olfactory nerve from the hippocampus, which is implicated in memory, especially working memory and short-term memory. Olfaction is the sensory modality that is physically closest to the limbic system, of which the hippocampus and amygdala are a part, and which is responsible for emotions and memory. This may be why odour-evoked memories are unusually emotionally potent. It may be significant that olfactory neurons are unmyelinated, making olfaction the slowest of all the senses. It not only takes the brain longer to perceive olfactory stimuli, the sensation of an odour also persists for greater lengths of time than do sensations of vision or audition. The fact that olfactory receptors are the only sensory receptors directly exposed to the environment may also help explain the relationship between olfaction and memory.

Certainly more research has been conducted in areas of visual and auditory information whereas many traits of odour memory have yet to be defined. For example, storage and decay processes, characteristics of memory processes, are not yet understood with respect to olfaction. Neurological imaging techniques could further refine our understanding of the way odour memory works.

Recent research has supported the existence of olfactory short-term memory[3]. Although there is no evidence for olfactory primacy[4], White and Treisman’s experiment provides evidence for recency in olfaction. The researchers explained this finding by mentioning that primacy is accounted for by rehearsal, “a cognitive process that may not be available for odours”. White and Treisman posited that olfactory memory occurs because individuals assign verbal meanings to olfactory stimuli. They also claim that just as olfactory sense is a crucial sense for other animals, “there is no a priori reason why humans alone should lack an olfactory memory”.

Rabin & Cain in 1984 found that odour memory was improved by familiarity and identifiability. Olfaction has often been implicated in learning processes, specifically in research done with animals.[5] Research has also been done on odour memory in humans. It has been shown that patients of Korsakoff’s syndrome, who suffer severe memory impairment, show less of an impairment for odour memory than for other kinds of memory. This suggests that there is in fact a mechanism for odour memory separate from other kinds of memory.

Much research has found connections between the structures of the olfactory system and the structures involved in memory in the modern human species. There have also been associations made between the two systems through their evolutionary histories. According to Rachel Herz, “the limbic system literally grew out of the olfactory bulb”. This notion that the limbic system evolved from the olfactory system could be the key to any smell-memory connection. A link has also been made between the presence of stem cells in both the olfactory and memory systems.[6]

The main reason why I became interested in olfaction it’s relation with and effect on emotions. This is discussed by Rachel Herz, who refers to the event of odour-triggered memories as instances of the “Proust phenomenon.”[7] This common term was adopted from Marcel Proust’s novel Swann’s Way in which the author famously describes this kind of experience. The narrator is overwhelmed by the odour of a Madeleine biscuit dipped in linden-blossom tea. This scents causes a flood of memories concerning a long-forgotten childhood event. In Proustian memories the cue is a smell. One of the most distinctive properties of odour-evoked memories is the powerful emotion that often accompanies them. Olfaction and emotion are intimately connected by the structures of the limbic system. In fact the limbic system is believed to have evolved originally as a system for the sophisticated analysis of olfactory input.[8]The most ancient part of the brain comprises the olfactory and limbic areas, the rhinencephalon. The olfactory and limbic structures evolved from the, literally, “smell-brain.” In Herz view the ability to experience and express emotion grew directly out of the brain’s ability to process smell.

Herz has demonstrated the primacy of feeling in her scientific experiments. Along with psychologist John Schooler of the University of Pittsburgh, Herz claims to have produced the first unequivocal demonstration that naturalistic memories evoked by odours are more emotional than memories evoked by other cues. The study compared odours and visual cues for five items as cues for autobiographical memories. The results supported that Proustian memories are distinctly emotionally charged. The emotionality of odour-evoked memories may arise from the unique neural connections that exist between the olfactory areas of the central nervous system and the amygdala-hippocampal complex of the limbic system responsible for emotion.[9]

These direct connections may distinguish odour memories cues from other sensory memory cues because no other sensory system has such intense contact with the neural substrates of emotion and memory. Neuroimaging studies have also shed come insight on the significant neural pathways involved in the Proust phenomenon. Neurological studies have shown that odour assessments are processed primarily in the right hemisphere of the brain, which is also the part of the brain for the most part associated with emotion. Neuroimaging studies have also revealed that encoding and retrieval of memories occur in different parts of the brain. Memories are stored in the left dorsal prefrontal cortex but they are retrieved in the right prefrontal cortex, the hemisphere of the brain most heavily associated with odour identification and emotion.

Perhaps the most convincing evidence that olfaction, memory and emotion are intimately linked is illustrated by the loss of the sense of smell. Anosmia, a Greek term meaning “lack of smell,” can often lead to anxiety and depression.

John Harrison illustrates June Downey of the University of Wyoming studies on synaesthic relationship colour-smell/taste . She states that cases of coloured taste have been less well described in the literature, though attributes this not to the frequency with which this variant occurs, but to the failure of those with it to notice that tastes (or smells) evoke colours. Downey suggests that this is because objects that smell and/or taste are usually bound to “an object that’ naturally has” a colour which masks the synaesthesic colour. This may or may not be true, but it is our experience that those with, say, coloured smell are very aware of the colour of the odiferous object, as well as the colour percept elicited by the smell.[10]

Harrison also suggests that ‘smell function has, for the last couple of decades, been of interest to a number of researchers who investigate Parkinson’s desease, which features olfactory loss amongst its sequelae. A consequence of this interest has been the development and sale of the smell identification test (SIT), originally by Richard Doty and others at the University of Pennsylvania…’[11] The test conducted by a synaethete patient showed an accurate result of shape perception in relation to smells such as: chery: wave shape, mint: flat, but not filling like bubblegum, banana: round shape, lilac: shaped like a drill bit…

Harrison makes a useful distinction to devise typologies of synaethetic experiences: synaesthesia induced could be sensational and imaginal. Essentially the issue is whether simply tasting (or smelling) a substance that elicits colour is both necessary and sufficient to elicit the synaesthesic experience. ‘Would the synaesthete automatically ‘see’ the colour on being stimulated with the appropriate odour on each occasion that the odour was presented?’[12] If the answer is yes then the perception can be described as sensational, using Downey’s parlance. However, if it is necessary for the synaesthete to conjour up the colour in an effortful fashion, then the perception might best be described as imaginal.

Harrison suggests that a definition of terms is helpful in discussing these issues and so he proposes two different terms to be used to refer to these different scenarios. The synaesthesia that are believed to be automatic, constant, and irrepressible the term ‘correspondence’ can be used to describe the relationship between the primary sensation and the synaesthesic percept. In contrast, when referring to synaesthesia that are learnt, and therefore not automatic, constant, and irrepressible, the term ‘association’ will be used.

(Elena Cologni, 2003)

[1] here some of the results out of the four adopted macs produced in real time and then collected: gmac2avge — rgb(171, 102, 112), mac3avge rgb(115, 123, 144), gmac4avge — rgb(165, 128, 112), gmac5avge — rgb(98, 115, 105) part of the text files produced: mac2,rgb( 255, 0, 0 ) mac3,rgb( 255, 0, 170 ) mac4,rgb( 85, 0, 255 )mac5,rgb( 0, 0, 170 )mac2,rgb( 255, 170, 85 )mac3,rgb( 255, 85, 170 )mac4,rgb( 170, 85, 0 )mac5,rgb( 0, 85, 0 )mac2,rgb( 255, 170, 170 )mac3,rgb( 170, 255, 255 )mac4,rgb( 255, 255, 0 )mac2,rgb( 255, 255, 170 )mac3,rgb( 85, 0, 170 )mac4,rgb( 0, 85, 0 )mac5,rgb( 85, 255, 170 )mac2,rgb( 170, 255, 170 )mac3,rgb( 0, 85, 255 )mac4,rgb( 255, 85, 0 )mac5,rgb( 170, 85, 85 )mac3,rgb( 170, 255, 255 )mac4,rgb( 255, 170, 85 )mac5,rgb( 170, 170, 255 )mac2,rgb( 85, 0, 255 )mac3,rgb( 170, 170, 255 )mac4,rgb( 255, 170, 85 )mac3,rgb( 255, 255, 85 )mac4,rgb( 170, 85, 255 )mac5,rgb( 85, 85, 0 )mac2,rgb( 255, 170, 255 )mac2,rgb( 0, 0, 85 )mac3,rgb( 170, 255, 0 )mac4,rgb( 255, 0, 85 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170 )u,rgb( 255, 85, 170 )u,rgb( 85, 0, 255 )u,rgb( 85, 170, 85 )u,rgb( 170, 170, 170 )u,rgb( 170, 0, 170 )e,rgb( 85, 0, 255 ) 255 )h,rgb( 170, 85, 0 )Y,rgb( 170, 255, 255 )h,rgb( 0, 0, 85 )h,rgb( 85, 85, 0 )b,rgb( 85, 85, 85 )Y,rgb( 85, 85, 170 )Y,rgb( 0, 0, 255 )h,rgb( 85, 0, 0 )Y,rgb( 255, 0, 255 )h,rgb( 0, 0, 85 )h,rgb( 0, 85, 0 )b,rgb( 170, 255, 0 )Y,rgb( 255, 255, 170 )j,rgb( 0, 85, 0 )Y,rgb( 170, 0, 170 )Y,rgb( 255, 0, 0 )h,rgb( 170, 170, 85 )j,rgb( 170, 255, 255 )b,rgb( 255, 85, 255 )j,rgb( 170, 255, 170 )b,rgb( 85, 0, 255 )h,rgb( 170, 255, 85 )j,rgb( 170, 0, 255 )b,rgb( 0, 0, 170 )Y,rgb( 255, 170, 0 )h,rgb( 170, 170, 255 )j,rgb( 255, 170, 170 )b,rgb( 85, 170, 0 )Y,rgb( 85, 85, 255 )j,rgb( 170, 85, 170 )b,rgb( 255, 85, 255 )Y,rgb( 255, 85, 0 )h,rgb( 255, 170, 170 )j,rgb( 170, 85, 0 )b,rgb( 170, 170, 0 )h,rgb( 255, 0, 170 )Y,rgb( 85, 0, 170 )Y,rgb( 85, 0, 170 )Y,rgb( 255, 255, 255 )h,rgb( 170, 0, 170 )j,rgb( 0, 255, 170 )Y,rgb( 255, 255, 255 )h,rgb( 85, 255, 0 )j,rgb( 255, 170, 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[2] Herz R.S. & Engen T.1996. Odour memory: review and analysis. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review 3: n3,pp.300-313.

[3] White T. & Treisman M. 1997. A comparison of the encoding of content and order in olfactory memory and in memory for visually presented verbal materials. British Journal of Psychology 88: n3 459-469.

[4] the phenomenon in which stimuli presented at the beginning of a trial is remembered best

[5] For example, in a study by Frances Darling and Burton Slotnick  1994, rats quickly learned to avoid licking at a drinking tube containing an odourant and quinine hydrochloride. Learning occurred relatively quickly: within only one or two exposures to this particular combination of odour and tastant. This study suggests, then, that the brain may be equipped with a mechanism for olfactory memory. Slotnick (1993) provides further evidence for olfactory learning in rats. He shows that rats have actually achieved errorless performance in olfactory learning tasks. In 1991 W. Thomas Tomlinson (1991. Restriction of early exploratory forays effects specific aspects of spatial processing in weanling hamsters. Developmental Psychobiology 24: n4 277-298.) showed that normally reared hamsters demonstrated spatial memory for the location of odour cues in an allocentric task. The fact that animals often employ the olfactory sense to locate stored food provides further support for the existence of an olfactory memory of sorts. Stephen B. Vander Wall (1991)[5] showed that yellow pine chipmunks found caches (stored food) using their olfactory sense. However, in the study, olfaction only helped chipmunks localise moist seeds and not dry seeds. Olfaction therefore plays a part in an integrated system for recovering caches and finding hidden food. Another way in which animals use olfaction is identifying their young. Gary F. Mc Cracken did a study of Mexican free-tailed bats which examined nursing behavior of mother-pup pairs[5]. He found that mother bats returned to areas where they had nursed previously, and hypothesized that olfactory cues were used to remember these places.

[6] . Neurons associated with the nasal epithelium and the those in the hypocammpus, a prominent memory structure, are both capable of regrowth due to the presence of stem cells in these systems.

[7] Herz, Rachel S. “Scents of Time,” The Sciences, v40 i4 (July 2000): 34.

[8] Gray, Peter, Psychology, Third Edition, New York City: Worth Publishers, 1999.

[9] Anatomy of the Olfactory System.

[11] Harrison, J., p. 170.

[12] Harrison, J., p,170


supported by:

Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, University of The Arts, London
Università dell’Immagine, Milan,
Dragoco New York and Paris,
Oikos Milan





2003, video live installation, Performance Art as Practice in Research (PARIP, Bristol University 2003), also in Coscienza di Se’, neoncampobase, Bologna


‘Tracing’, was performed as follows:

Action – I draw the shadow that my body casts onto tracing paper, on the floor, I position each sheet from the pile in a fan shaped arrangement. 1st projection – live recording of a detail of the action: my hands drawing the shadow. 2nd projection -video with sound (also in Italian and overlapped), extract: ‘The supplement adds itself, it is a surplus, a plenitude enriching another plenitude, the fullest measure of presence. It cumulates and accumulates presence. It is thus that art, techné, image, representation, convention, etc, come as supplements to nature[…] Unlike the complement, dictionaries tell us, the supplement is an “exterior addition”’.[1] supplement, added feature, addendum, addition, additive, appendix, bell, codicil, complement […] tracing, copy, duplicate, archetype, carbon, carbon copy, cast, clone, counterfeit, counterpart, ditto, ectype, effigy, ersatz, facsimile, forgery […]

My hands were drawing the contour of the shadow my body was casting onto the paper. I was  constantly re-inventing the line as the body moved following the hands’ movement. It is not possible to trace one’s own shadow, and therefore it is not possible to document the movement of one’s own body while doing it.

[1] Derrida, J., Of Grammatology, tr Gayatri Spivak, Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1978, pp. 144-145


The intervention at PARIP was titled ‘Tracing’. It was conceived to address the impossibility of fixing a moment in time (Derrida) and referred directly to the production of documents for research purposes. Amelia Jones states (in the live event) that the self is inexorably embodied, and yet she argues that the works suggest that this does not mean that the performed body/self is ever completely legible or fixed in its effects. ‘Body art, through its very performativity and its unveiling of the body of the artist, surfaces the insufficiency and incoherence of the body/self (or the body-as-subject) and its inability to deliver itself fully (whether to the subject-in-performance herself or himself or to the one who engages with this body).’

Derrida called the problematic of ‘the trace’ what splits seemingly identical reflections. He attributed the trace to the memory of an ever-receding origin that always remains elusively outside of what it produces in the present. The temporal spacing of the trace never leads to spatial simultaneity and full visibility, but rather to interminable delay (diffèrance as deferral). [1]


1- Cologni, E., That spot in the ‘moving picture’ is you, (perception in time-based art), ed. John Freeman. Blood, Sweat & Theory: Research through Practice in Performance  Libri Publishing, London, 2010, pp. 83-107


Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, University of the Arts London, Practice as Research In Performance : 2001/2006



1999, participatory action, Oreste, Venice Biennale


To introduce the meaning of the today’s event, 3rd of July 1999 as part of the Oreste program at the 48th Venice Biennal, I will mention a few points, instruments of creativity and thinking.

“I see only from one point, but in my existence I am looked at from all sides” : this Jacques Lacan’s line is appropriate to suggest the sense of this performance, but also in tune with a part of my whole work.

Visual models often used in research to clarify or synthesise a particular theory, or define a method, are particularly useful in my own artistic practice.

The diagram that I refer to, comes from a drawing that I made in 1996. At that time I was making a choice among images coming from memory and contexts in which I had lived.

The new model, which comes from this, is not fixed in the past, instead refers to a continuous present time and to myself constantly changing context in which the I (=personal identity) meets the me (=other’s perspective and social identity). The passing of time effects the I as much as the me and the context itself, therefore the terms of the relation are also constantly readdressed.

The diagram is very simple to read: there is myself in the centre and has to do with my own position relating to a specific context, in and outside of Italy (my own country). It is also, as already said not fixed and refers to a continuous repositioning of myself within the contexts.  This dynamic generates an always new relation within the communication schema.


  • communication between people depends on codes of the context in which they meet
  • communication is not possible if the code is not shared by everybody
  • communication is possible if the barriers are removed
  • by creating a virtual context is possible to remove social barriers

“ …the me represents a person’s social identity, constituted in social interaction and shaped under the influence of social norms and public requirements with respect to behaviour.

The I on the other hand stands for one’s personal  identity , whose origin and development cannot be explained solely on the basis of experiences in social interaction, and which is subject to the anarchic spontaneity and creativity of a single identity.”

George Herbert Mead

Audience: people I met during my lifetime.


  1. to remove our perception of each other based on assumptions that we made when met in a particular context, according to a particular role.
  2. to create a new context in which to exchange messages and therefore communicate to people who I met in the past in a different context.
  3. the use of words within social and cultural codes, has to show the poietic dimension and become instrument in the operation of loss of social norms let the personal identity emerge.

Cologni, E. (1999) Diagrammi, notes. Artist book (limited edition)


Oreste was not a group producing collective artworks, nor a not-for-profit organization. It was a variable set of persons, mostly Italian artists, who have been working together with the aim of creating spaces of freedom for ideas, inventions, and projects.

During the 48th Venice Biennale, from June 10th through November 7th 1999, on the occasion of an invitation to the exhibition dAPERTutto, Oreste set up an ongoing program of meetings, interactive performances, round table discussions, lectures, lunches and informal encounters. Almost one hundred events were organized, and more than five hundred people from the whole world took an active role in the project.

Progetto Oreste


Cologni, E., ‘Institutions in Great Britain: Artist as Researcher. Diagrams’, Oreste at the Venice Biennale, AAVV, Charta, Milan 2000