Mixing things up

 

IAO library

Swotting up with IAO’s perfume library

Having only had one fairly brief foray into making perfume in the past, I was interested to see how I’d fare with more formal training. I hoped that my experience in assessing wine and some blending experience in that realm would stand me in good stead for my residency at the Institute for Art and Olfaction (IAO).

 

Before I started, I had an idea of what I wanted to create to evoke the imagery of La Chevelure, the Charles Baudelaire poem that I was working with. The perfume would have to convey three ideas: that of the sea, a dry fragrant forest and the exotic. But where to start?

 

IAO’s Saskia Wilson-Brown suggested my first task should be nosing through the samples in the perfume organ. As sniffing everything would prove impossible, and likely lead to temporary anosmia, I check out the vials that hold scents I think might suit my brief. The organ’s aromas provided an intriguing experience – from Cashmeran with its wood earthy almost fungal notes – that I earmarked for my fragrance – to more divisive aromas such as Indolene – redolent of decay with a whiff of the faecal – not appropriate for this piece but something I’d like to experiment with in the future!

 

After assembling my aromatic palette I set to work making the three “accords” that would combine to create my final smell-track – these are a number of aroma “notes” that are combined to create an effect akin to a musical chord. First up was the wood, which given there are so many woody extracts available, I thought would be the easiest to start with.

 

Wood accord blends

My top four wood accord blends – but which one to choose?

The process was one of trial and error, with each version’s ingredients and their proportions noted down for reference. After nine attempts I reached a combination that I was pleased.

 

This first attempt at fragrance mixing hadn’t been quite as hard as I’d feared. I’d made swift progress, possibly due to being smell-fit from my wine assessments. But I also certainly noticed similarities between this and my experiences of wine blending and even with the mixing and layering of the recordings in my music too.

 

With and with a decidedly worn out snout I called it a day, then well into the evening I was still haunted by – albeit pleasant – aromas of earth and wood.

Making crossmodal connections

Image

A visit to Occidental College’s multisensory labSasha & carmel small

While in LA I took the opportunity to catch up with cognitive scientists Carmel Levitan and Sasha Sherman at their multisensory lab at Occidental College. I was keen to learn more about their research into sensory interaction given Carmel’s previous research into crossmodal correspondences between music, odour and emotion and Sasha’s interest in the brain and art.

 

As well as pursuing their own research in the multisensory labs, Carmel and Sasha use with students to study how the different senses interact to influence a range of perceptual and cognitive states, and the role of social and emotional factors in mediating these states.

 

IMG_1866
Sasha demonstrated an interesting experiment investigating whether priming participants with the same rhythm before a task made them work better together in performing it. With Carmel I sniffed some of the unfamiliar scents created for one of her olfactory experiments – Sasha’s dog Nacho also got in on the act, who I suggested likely had the best nose in the room. However, they told me about a study that suggested that the power human’s sense of smell could be more akin to a dog’s if our noses were closer to floor level!

 

I discussed with them my hopes that the crossmodal congruency between the smells and sounds that I would be using in my project at the Institute for Art and Olfaction would result in bringing different elements of its scent component to the fore. We also discussed the issue of olfactory adaptation, which is when you stop smelling something after prolonged contact. I’d aimed to keep the sound piece I’d made fairly short, but at around 12 minutes, one would expect this to occur. However, I wondered if sounds could retrigger the perception of smells within the work.

 

It was a great meeting with some exciting common research interests that may well develop into future arts-science collaborations.

In residence at the Institute for Art and Olfaction

IMG_1869When 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.

IMG_1884

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.

 

IMG_1873This 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!

IMG_1871

 

 

 

Oenosthesia UK premiere

Featured

10. Recording wine in Irpinia, ItalyMonday, 5 September 2016 from 19:00 to 20:30

Studio Sienko – 57A Lant St, Borough, London, SE1 1QL, UK

Experience the fascinating transformations that occur when wine and sound combine at the UK premiere of Oenosthesia. In this multisensory sound and taste work created by Australasian-based sound artist, wine writer and multisensory academic, Jo Burzynska a soundscape created from recordings made in vineyards across the world works in harmony with a selection of wines that are tasted by the audience thoughout the piece.

In Oenosthesia, Jo explores the way in which sound influences the perception of a wine’s taste and texture through the changing timbres and frequencies of the music in combination with different styles of wine. It’s a work that both includes and is created from wine, bringing together Jo’s two professional interests to create a unique experience that draws on the science of sensory interaction.

The work was initially created as an installation from a “Suoni dal confine” artist residency in Irpinia, Italy and premiered at the Interferenze New Art Festival’s Factory of Art Rurality and Media 2012 in Tufo, Italy. It has since been presented in Australasia, as part of an exhibition at Rome’s MAXXI National Museum of 21st Century Arts and this special one-off London event is its UK premiere.

Before the presentation of Oenosthesia, Jo will provide a brief overview of the project and current research into the often powerful interactions between sound and taste. She’ll also demonstrate through the tasting of a couple of initial wines how music can enhance or detract from what you have in your glass and offer tips on matching wine with music at home.

The event is supported by Lant Street Wine and Sienko Studios with wines kindly supplied by Waipara West and Cloudy Bay.

Tickets are limited and can be booked here.

Jo Burzynska (Stanier Black-Five) has a career spanning two decades in wine and sonic art. After starting her wine writing career in the UK, after moving to New Zealand she’s penned one of the country’s most widely read wine columns in the New Zealand Herald and is the author of Wine Class: All You Need to Know About Wine in New Zealand (Random House). She is also an active sound artist, whose work in recent years has increasingly combined her professional interests in multisensory installations and performances; the founding of the world’s first “oenosthetic”bar, at The Auricle in New Zealand where she curated a wine list to match the music in the space; as well as and running regular wine and music matching workshops. She is currently engaged in research into the interaction of sound and taste thorugh a PhD at the University of New South Wales in Sydney.

Resounding the Timeball

DSC03943Lyttelton-based sonic artist, Jo Burzynska is reconstructing the Timeball Station out of sound as part of the Lyttelton Summer Festival. Using recordings made throughout the historic building when it was standing, she will be creating a multi-speaker installation on its site in the footprint of the original building.

 

Before Lyttelton’s Timeball Station was destroyed in the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011, Burzynska made extensive audio recordings of the building that were originally used in a performance at an event in the building hosted by the Borderline Ballroom. These ranged from the sound of the timeball itself being wound up and then dropped to documenting the audible environment of the building.

 

Completed in 1876, the Timeball Station was built to signal the time to ships in Lyttelton harbour, by dropping a large ball from its mast on its stone tower. This castle-like structure also included three storeys that provided accommodation, work areas and housed the clock.

 

While the building is no longer there physically, it will be present in sonic spirit for visitors to wander around all afternoon on 14th February. Burzynska will also be leading a one-hour sound walk around Lyttelton starting from the site at 1pm that day, which will explore the exciting acoustic terrain of this natural amphitheatre and encourage walkers to tune in to the shifting port soundscapes.

 

This event is being held in conjunction with Heritage New Zealand, who will also be on site to provide information about the building and the rebuild of its tower, which starts this year. The project is also supported by `funding from the Christchurch Community Arts Council.

 

Date: Sunday 14th February

Time: 1-5pm

Place: Timeball site, 2 Reserve Terrace, Lyttelton

Koha

CCAClogo