Fickle (Gritty) Memory

7 Dec 2023 — 31 Jan 2024

Location: SOLU

Aaro Murphy
Fickle (Gritty) Memory
7 December – 31 January 2023

SOLU Space, Panimokatu 1 (3rd floor), Helsinki

Tue–Sun 12–18h or by appointment
Closed from 23rd December until 2nd January


Exhibition opening on 7th December at 17:00.

Aaro Murphy exhibits a new installation work Fickle (Gritty) Memory at SOLU Space this December-January. The work is based on his research into urban smells and aroma capture technologies during Bioart Society’s Tokyo Art & Science Research Residency in 2022, the exhibition will encompass a new aroma sculpture and video work largely developed while in Japan.

Fickle (Gritty) Memory is part of a wider cross-disciplinary research project exploring aroma sensing and electronic nose technologies and ways in which they might assimilate into our cities to sense atmospheric information. Through a proposed script for an electronic nose, the video work speculates on computer sensing and how memories associated with smells are stored. Based on recent developments in e-nose technologies Murphy has written a script for a nose that senses the molecules in a city, mixing this with personal memories associated with urban aromas. With this text Murphy speculates on possible language used by the nose to relay atmospheric information to a dweller. The language in the script starts to break down from aroma descriptions to individual molecular parts, drifting into an associative poetic language around smell. 

A computer controlled air system is installed into the second space of the gallery, gently diffusing an aroma reminiscent of soil. The main component of this aroma is geosmin, a molecule commonly found in most soils which creates their distinctive earthy aroma. The smell conjures memories of ground, digging, earth, worms and dirt while the sculpture itself takes on a cold and technical aesthetic referencing air conditioning networks and HVAC piping. This discrepancy between the automated and organic is a theme that Murphy has been exploring in his work for the past 7 years, attempting to find a fragile overlap between the organic and synthesized. Operating like an ecosystem of its own, the installation elements start weaving a dialogue between each other, exploring themes around the body, sensing and ecology through the lens of auto-fiction.

The work has been made possible with kind support from Suomen Taideyhdistys, Nuorten Taiteilijoiden Apuraha.


Aaro Murphy was chosen for the month-long Tokyo Art & Science Research Residency in 2022. During his time in Japan, Murphy researched urban smells found in Japan, collecting smells from Tokyo during smell walks and site visits. Experimenting with various extraction methods from distillations, macerates to tinctures, his aim was to create a library of materials and smells synonymous with the city, as well as learn more about smell extraction.