signal to nose

radio and scent broadcast


Assemble, Pittsburgh, PA

As a form of communication, plants release volatile compounds into the air – small broadcasts of airborne information. In moments of stress, compounds known as “green leaf volatiles” waft as warnings to nearby plants and insects. To the human nose, these notes go unnoticed, or register as a pleasant whiff of freshly cut grass.

In the project space, these same green leaf volatiles released as warnings by plants were broadcast into the air as an olfactory transmission. Alongside this scent transmission was a simultaneous low power FM radio transmission, broadcasting another kind of airborne signal – the voices of youth climate activists. This radio transmission could be heard in or near the gallery by turning on a radio tuned into a designated FM frequency.

Throughout the exhibition, this radio playlist evolved with the inclusion of audio collected from the public.


On April 16, students from my NonVisual Art Class at the University of Pittsburgh put together Nonnonsense Radio, a one-night event of performance and multisensory artwork in response to the installation.

Images by Hannah Sauder and the artist.