SUGAR is a multi-modal sensory installation I completed while Artist-in-Residence at Subotron, the video game culture center at the MuseumsQuartier in Vienna, Austria. Based on the aesthetics and lore of the famed Spanish Riding School (Austria’s historic royal performing horses), SUGAR treats the excesses of the imperial court culture and Hapsburg history both from a romantic point of view, and with a knowing wink.

The SUGAR project was a collaboration with fellow Artists in Residence Leonie Smelt (fashion) and Mitch Heinrich (product design), as well as remote collaborators Damien Di Fede (programming) and Anna Zajaczkowski (visualization and programming). Games, music, chemistry, performing arts, fashion, DIY electronics, and the culinary arts combined to create a “temporary glitter zone” in the heart of the Electric Avenue, the Digital Culture area of ​​Quartier21.

Diffstream Meadow by Heather Kelley and Anna Zajaczkowski

Highlights of the project:

  • SUGAR, a collaborative computer game for two players, in which players enter the Spanish Riding School as performing Lipizzaner stallions
  • The “Action Olofactorizer,” a hardware/software/chemical system for scent delivery, in which combinations of specially-designed scent fluids (grass, leather, horse excrement) can be triggered by various player actions and vaporized for distribution in the space
  • Visual design and fashion creations by Leonie Smelt, based on her 2009 line kaleidoscope eyes
  • Custom designed data visualizations, including “Diffstream Meadow” created to illustrate the two-month-long progress of game code development

Video: SUGAR gameplay

Dress Sketches by Leonie Smelt


The Action Olofactorizer scent delivery system, created with Mitch Heinrich (CAD design and first prototype)

Olofactorizer_CAD ActionOlofactorizer

Bonus video: plucking the “horse apple” used to create the Olofactorizer’s “horse poop” smell! (Special thanks to Anderson Mills)