When I heard about Los Angeles’ Institute for Art and Olfaction a few years back it seemed like a dream establishment in which to explore the exciting potential of olfactory art. Now this month I’m its resident artist, learning about creating aromas to integrate into my multisensory practice with the resulting work opening at its gallery on 25th August.
I have IAO director and founder Saskia Wilson-Brown as my tutor and the institute’s extensive perfume organ at my disposal. These first days I’ve been sniffing my way though the collection and selecting aromas I may want to work with as the aromatic element of my project at the space.
This work is inspired by the poetic imagery of the symbolist poets, and more specifically La Chevalure, a poem by Charles Baudelaire. The multisensory work I’m creating, like those of the symbolists, draws on the interactions between sound and scents to evoke states of mind. However, in this work, this state will be created not by words but by the sounds and scents themselves in an immersive sensory environment that sets out to blur the boundaries between its own artifice and the subconscious reactions provoked by the participant’s sensory responses.
As in my past work – in which I have created installations applying contemporary scientific knowledge of the psychological interactions of certain sounds and tastes -in this new installation I’m again applying some of the findings of current research into crossmodal correspondences between sound and odours.
Surrounded by so many intriguing aromatic components I’m feeling in my element and hoping this bodes well for my perfume blending skills!