Sunday, 25 April 2010

Making Noise

Making Smells

Attempting to formulate a scent using the basic principles of perfume making, composed of a Base Note, Middle Note, and Top Note (though I have two of these due to their properties that i feel appropriate for the feelings i want to attempt to induce.)

It is not that i am interested in creating a 'harmonious' (Piesse, 1857) orchestration of scent, that may be conventionally pleasureable to the trained perfumer, I have a greater concern for the affects of the essential oils, and to combine them to produce conflicting feelings on participants. Corresponding with the music being produced for the duration of the piece, I am interested in producing an indefinite feeling, similar when we experience notions of nostalgia.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

The Art of Perfumery

This is potentially one of the most intriguing concepts i have come across, and would like to adapt such a theory to incorporate into my piece, as a method of tying in the scents and music.
George William Septimus Piesse produces a theory of which to correspond notes of music to 'notes' contained in scents, thus, in theory, composing a'harmonious' formation of music, will do the same for the corresponding scents. This can also work in opposition to produce something of discordance.

'Remembrance of Smells Past'

BBC Radio 4, has aired an absolutley fascinating show about how we can use scents as a means of bringing memories past, that we may have forgotten about alltogether, to the forefront of our minds.

BBC Radio 4’s, Remembrance of Smells Past (2010), guides us through presenter Ian Peacocks personal experience of the scientific experiments carried out to test the transitional, and inevitably nostalgic, and uncanny affects of smells. He asks questions as to whether we can use it as a tool to consciously influence and even manipulate our emotional states.

He continues to use writer Marcel Proust’s example of a sudden provoked memory produced from a Madaline cake, in his book Remembrance of Things Past. (1913-1927)

“No sooner had the warm liquid mixed with the crumbs touched my palette, than a shudder ran through my whole body and I stopped intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses with no suggestion of it’s origin. Suddenly the memory revealed itself. The taste was of a little piece of Madeline, which on Sunday mornings my Aunt Leonie used to give me, dipping it first in her own cup of tea. Immediately the old grey house on the street where her room was, rose up like a stage set, and the entire town, with it’s people and houses, gardens, church and surroundings, taking shape and solidity, sprang into being from my cup of tea.” (Proust, 1913)

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Nostalgia within scents

Whilst considering what kind of feeling to induce within my installation, feelings of 'nostalgia' are a tempting direction to head in.

When experiencing certain smells that effect us emotionally, it is usually the case that we are transported back to our childhood, as this is when we first experience such notions, and they can be the strongest.
This would be an interesting angle to approach this 'experience', but fear that everyone's version, can vary. It would seem that peoples relation to smells can be extremely subjective culturally.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Installation Test No.1

With the room painted white, it provides me with a clean space to start from scratch. Combining the ambient sounds made by Ben Jackson ( posted here on the blog, with the aid of a smoke machine, and the best way I could think of to disperse Eycalyptus, Menthol, and Peppermint oils in the space, I attempted to create a form of displacement for the audience when entering the room.

-The sound reverberated off the walls affectively, but a much higher quality (and bigger) soundsystem is needed to be able to, pick up the frequencys being created.

-The scent certainly needs to be stronger, and even to be considered is applying it to audiences skin, so the smell emanates off them, and almost becomes in tune with their bodies....

-I would like to provide some form of strong light in the next test, and begin to correspond colours, with scent and sound...

Linking a scent to an event....

Remembering from experience, the power smells can have in bringing back, feelings amongst many other notions, from certain periods of time, I decided to experiment with this, to see just how powerful the sense of memory can be when presented with a familiar scent.
Applying the strong smelling scent to each persons skin each hour, for around 4 hours, and leaving the bottles scent to disperse around the warm room, made sure that the scent was present at all times.

Going back to this scent myself, I feel an overwhelming feeling of being transported in some way, back to significant parts of that night, such as the dim lighting, feeling very fatigued and also the types of food we were eating copious amounts of.

I planned to reunite my subjects also with the scent, at some point, to see what notions they experience when having this particular scent around them again.

If this is successful in rekindling aspects of that period of time, this may be a method I use within my piece.

Could it be that I could provide visitors to my piece of work with a sample of the scent emanated around them, to provide them with a way of once again engaging with the experience they were having within that time.

This could be highly subjective but lead to interesting results as a consequence of this.


To be enveloped by a sense, to create a surrounding/atmosphere. To create a connection, a union with the given object/actor.

Similar to the way Suskind decribes the way his characters mind reacts to scents, in Perfume (1987).

“He saw nothing, he heard nothing, he felt nothing. He only smelt the aroma of the wood rising up around him to be captured under the bonnet of the eaves. He drank the aroma, he drowned in it, Impregnating himself through his innermost pores, until he became wood himself.” (Suskind, 1987)

Similar to the aims of Carston Hollers work, I endeavor to produce unfamiliar feelings or evoke a form of atmosphere ...

Carsten Holler

Lichtwand (2000)

"Several thousand lightbulbs flash incessantly at 7.8 hz - a frequency that is synchronous to that of brain activity and thereby capable of inducing visual hallucinations in the viewer. [...] It is a work designed to dislocate and disorient" (Bishop, 2005)

Former biologist Carsten Holler, uses his former scientifc education, to transfer in his art practice to create works which can affect his audeince on a deeper physical and a psychological level.
His works aim to induce affects, such as disorientation in Lichtwand, and feelings including 'love', within such as the pieces, Solandra Greenhouse, where we are invited into a room containing plants containing, 'pheromones capable of inducing amorous feelings' (

And Pea Love Room, a similar idea but with a stronger participatory intent, as the viewers are to get into the sex belts, and inject themselves with the chemical phenylethylamine (PEA) using the provided syringe.


Creating a form of disorientation for the subjects was acheived by blindfolding, and leading them down into a basement. I asked them to feel their way around, paying close attention to how they would respond to the forms on the walls.

To my surprise people did not show reluctance to touching and getting a sense of their surroundings (I thought there would be much hesitation).
What was most interesting, was that after a few minutes had past, and I had allowed them to take off their blind folds, some were in a position of feeling moderate disorientation, as they envisioned the space they were exploring to be vastly different.

Spatial aspects can be considered here, possibly look in to Gaston Bachelard's, The Poetics of Space.
From this process I have found that working with a space in which to contain things may be a constructive way in which to work. Also creating some form of experience for my subjects, is something which interests me greatly.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Smell This...

Realising that sense of smell was what I had become increasingly interested in since a young age, I decided that similar to the egg as an actor of object, applying a strong smell to the same methodology, could evoke interesting, and telling reactions.

The two different ingredients were Rose Essence, and Garlic.

Throughout this process and documentation, I began to notice that it was a while after the individuals had taken the scent in and i had taken the photograph that they began to interact and relate to the smells. elaborating on the effect it was having on them and what they thought it maybe was certainly the most interesting outcome of this piece.

It made me realise that i needed to give my subjects more time, to react and to relate the objects or surroundings....