urban explorers


21-23 May 2010.Urban Explorers was a 3-day-art-festival which took place in Dordrecht (21-23 May 2010).

Maki, my teacher at art science, asked me to help her for her exhibition with smells, and i was more than happy to do it. Her exhibition, SMELL X ILLUSION, was to spray various scents on a boat trip along the Dordrecht canal, using paint sprayer and 2 compressors.

On Tuesday (18 May) we met at CBK (Centrum Beldeende Kunst) Dordrecht, and had a try out with the equipment. So we filled the spray cans with 18 different smells (grass, cucumber, beer, white wine, orange juice, bread, chocolate, mocca, apple pie, bubble gum, neroli water (which smells like a wet tissue from a plane or train), baby, soap, myrrhe, and chanel 5.

spray cans

transporting the compressors

compressors on the boat

The try out went really well, thespray cans and compressors worked perfectly. The smells however, need some adjustments. Some alcohol-based synthetic smells like mocca, bubblegum, and chocolate were too concentrated and thus were too strong.The more natural smell like beer and orange juice (maki used real beer and orange juice) had the perfect level of concentration.

After the try out, we had a dinner at an Italian restaurant. I think it was the nicest Italian restaurant I’ve ever been to in the Netherlands.

pizza! with ham and egg, yum yum!

On the way back to Rotterdam and Leiden, we took a really old train (which I haven’t seen it before), and I was so amazed by the interior. I felt like being in a Sherlock Holmes movie! (the one with Basil Rathbone of course, not Robert Downey Jr).

love the colour of this old train

On Friday (21 May 2010), the first day of the festival,(around 3 hours before the start of the boat trip), we cleaned the spray cans to refill them with some other smells. Unfortunately, some previous smells were too strong that even it took hard work to clean the cans even with loads of spiritus. And I had to get some deep breaths outside for many times because the smell of the spiritus (i.e. methanol) really made me dizzy.

the monkeys who keep smiling when i cleaned the cans with spiritus

The first rondvaart (boat trip) was at 19.30. Most of the passengers were fellow urban explorers artists, I think. This time maki used 20 smells: lavender, fries, coffee,chocolate, coconut milk, surinaamse toko, bbq chicken, beer, cognac,baby, vlierbes, robijn (clothes softener), myrrh, forest, rose, pizza, coconut milk, rum coke, neroli water, wood, bbq, and chanel 5.

Maki’s answer to smell (taken from maki’s blog)

We then had a nice dinner at roodkapje afterwards, along with Yota and Akane, whom Maki is going to work with for the next project, The Tattoer.

After dinner they all went home, while I, after assuring there would be night train from dordrecht, went to the concerts at popcentrale and energiehuis. As i walked through the parking lot, a littlegirl (around 8 or 9 years old) who was playing there with some friends approached me and asked me some questions. Since I couldn’t speak Dutch she asked some people around there (from the security guard to the festival committee) how to ask some questions. Her name was Melda, and her friend Chaja had Indonesian descent. There was also a boy who was playing with them too and i guess his name was Tane.

After that short but nice conversation with some children, I went to Popcentrale but Aucan had not yet seen on the stage. While waiting, I opened the festival booklet and realised that Lars Horntveth (of Jaga Jazzist) was playing next  door at the energiehuis. And so i quickly went there, and it was one of the most amazing performances i hadever seen.

Multi-instrumentalist Lars Horntveth was accompanied by Emenon.Their performance was mesmerising. I was also highly amazed by the drummer Gard Nilssen. I believe it was the best drumming performance I had ever seen in my entire life. The orchestra consisted of brass section, string section, and there was even a harpist.

After being jaw-dropped by those Norwegian musicians, I went to Popcentrale next door to see Aucan. The Italian band was not that (uhm..) impressive. Too aggressive if I might say. I then waited for the next band, The Sedan Vault. I had seen them when I was at Dour Festival, of whom I thought the vocalist was a crossbreed of Ian Brown and Liam Gallagher. And just as last year, their performance was so-so. So I left the venue after the third song.

The next day (Saturday 22/5) Maarten joined me to the event.We had a short stroll in the beautiful city, even bought some strawberries to snack before arriving at CBK.


At 14.00 we parted as maarten went to have a look at the event (and also tried Edwin’s Radioscape) and I helped maki cleaning the cans. There were not too many cans to clean and we even came an hour too early at the dock.

taking photo of the boat while waiting

The first round was at 18.00 and i asked maartento take some photos during the boat trip. Maki said later that it was the best round amongst the other 3.

Maki sprays

Maki changes the spray can

the passengers (and our captain!)

the captain

view from the boat

Anyway, due to misschedule(the first boat trip was re-scheduled to 17.30 instead of 18.00), Maki wasforced to do the next boat trip directly after the first one. However, the compressors were almost empty so we had to fill them quickly. There were some nervousness at that time, but it ran well in the end.

When the second trip was finished, and also we finished cleaning up, we had dinner at the roodkapje.

turkish tart

After the dinner, we quickly ran to Bibelot to see Amiina. It was a really nice performance, although unfortunately we only managed to see the last song.


Then we walked to energiehuis, where Greg Haines was performing. There were also some changes in the schedule of the performance, Greg Haines performed at 22.00 instead of 23.00, and the one who performed at 23.00 was DAAU, a Belgian four-piece band.

Greg Haines


Tim Hecker was the last performance of that night and he successfully put me to.. sleep. It was already one-ish when everybody was giving an applause, waking me up from my nap. Maarten and I then walked to the station and found out the bitter truth: the train only ran to Delft, as the railway between Delft and Den Haag was being repaired. Half grumbling, we took the bus from Delft to Leiden. (I was the one who grumbled, Maarten tried to de-grumble me, hehe) and reached home at almost 4.

The third and final day (Sunday 23 May 2010) was a short one. I spent a couple of hours before and after the event to stroll down in the city of Dordrecht. The city was really cool. Just when I thought Leiden was nice and old, Dordrecht was even older. The city has small tunnels, narrow alleys, and really European atmosphere. It is the oldest city in the Netherlands and is famous for its rich history and culture.

Here are some photos from Urban Explorers, including the beautiful city of Dordrecht. All photos are by Oxalis except noted [m] by Maarten.

Big thank you to Maki Ueda.


answer to smell x illusion:

making the smell x illusion:



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