Risonanze di Vino was a residency project in which I explored the interactions between the sounds and wines, culture and senses in wine regions within Campania, Southern Italy. Curated by Leandro Pisano and supported by Nicola Carfora, this project sought to uncover resonances between the sensory and affective connections of local winegrowers – predominantly located in Sannio/Valle Caudina areas – and their wines and land. These responses helped guide the making of audio recordings in their vineyards and wineries, which were then used in the creation of site-specific soundscapes for one wine from each of the six producers visited.
Masseria Fratassi’s Pasquale Clemente up Mt Taburno
Cantine Giardino’s Daniela di Gruttola and her amphorae
Each soundscape aims to reflect the connections articulated by the maker of the selected wine through sounds of that wine’s sonic ‘terroir’, sourced from its place and production. The individual soundscape was also designed to harness perceptual correspondences between elements of the sounds recorded and the salient aroma and flavour characters of the individual wine, which is tasted as part of the work. The wine and sound combined offers a sensory transmission of the complex cultural and personal contexts of the wine’s making, heightened by the works’ crossmodal harmony.
The works from Risonanze di Vino were premiered on 7 October, 2018 at Cristina Park Hotel, Montesarchio, Italy. The wines used were:
Masseria Parisi Resolje Moscato Spumante de Baselice NV
Masseria Fratassi SVG920 2017
Vallissasoli 33/33/33 2013
Fontanavecchia Libero Taburno Falaghina 2007
Cantina Giardino Bianco 2017
Cantine Tora “Spartiviento” Aglianico del Taburno Riserva 2011
Further and more detailed documentation may well be forthcoming!
“But when from a long-distant past nothing subsists … the smell and taste of things remain poised a long time, like souls, ready to remind us, waiting and hoping for their moment, amid the ruins of all the rest; and bear unfaltering, in the tiny and almost impalpable drop of their essence, the vast structure of recollection.”
Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time
When the narrator of Proust’s novel, In Search of Lost Time bites into a madeleine cake, he is involuntarily transported back to a joyful moment, which he comes to identify as that of sharing the cake with his aunt as a child. This power of taste and smell to powerfully trigger memories and emotions – which has become known as the “Proust effect” after this passage – is likely due to the fact that unlike vision, sound or touch, our olfactory system is directly connected to the amygdala and hippocampus, areas of the brain involved in emotion and memory. These very personal experiences that can be conjured up by smell and taste are something of which anyone working with these senses must be mindful. As an artist using both, I was interested to know how this might influence correspondences with the other sense in my practice, audition.
One of the central parts of my Culture at Work Art-Science residency was an audio-olfactory experiment in which I sought to identify correspondences between a selection of different sounds and aromas and gain insights into how these might be emotionally, conceptually or perceptually influenced. Past studies have identified sound-smell correspondences that people appear to share, and have started to examine what might be behind these. However, while the role of emotion has been explored and identified as one of the factors likely mediating audio-olfactory correspondences, no study to date has examined the personal associations and memories that may play a part in this. Given this gap, I was keen to incorporate this into my own research.
Assisting me in the experimental design, was my residency science partner, the cognitive neuroscientist and specialist in sensory processing and synaesthesia, Associate Professor Anina Rich of Macquarie University, and her colleague Mem Mahmut, a psychologist specialising in olfaction. On 19th July, 14 participants progressed round my series of ten “smelling stations”, where they’d rate an unidentified aroma for a number of characters. These characters included personal preference and perceptual characters such as harshness/softness. They were also asked to guess what they thought the aroma might be and whether the aroma evoked any personal associations or memories. A similar set of questions was asked for the six sound/music samples that were played over the course of the experiment. Participants went on to rate the match of each of the ten aromas that they encountered with each of the sound samples, and select a sound frequency level on a tone generator that they felt best matched each aroma.
A taste of the experiment is available at the Osmic Resonance exhibition
The results provided some fascinating new insights into audio-olfactory correspondences, which I went to apply in the creation of my residency exhibition, Osmic Resonance. I will be discussing these, and how I integrated them into the work, in the Osmic Resonances and Sensory Correspondences Talk that I’m giving on Thursday 9thAugust, which Anina Rich will be illuminating with perspectives on sensory interaction from her perspective as a cognitive neuroscientist.
The research continues within the exhibition, as participants are invited to provide feedback on their experience of the Osmic Resonance installation itself.
4-12 August, 2018 – 11am-4pm
Scott St, Pyrmont, Sydney
My audio-olfactory work, La Chevelure is part of reminiSCENT, an ambitious olfactory art exhibition curated by Megan Fizell at Sydney’s May Space, which surveys contemporary artists initiating multisensory experiences through olfactory encounters. As well as the 2016 audio-olfactory installation, this iteration includes La Chevelure Boîte à Souvenirs, a vintage hand-carved box containing a copy of the sound work, the scent and the Charles Baudelaire poem, La Chevelure.
“…mon âme peut boire / À grands flots le parfum, le son et la couleur” – Baudelaire, La Chevelure.
La Chevelure is an exploratory, immersive audio-olfactory installation that charts a sensuous journey through the waves of ‘synesthetic symbolism’ in the Charles Baudelaire poem of the same name. In his poem from the mid-1800s, Baudelaire created a dense tangle of multisensory imagery to evoke the poem’s conceptual and emotional content using the central symbol of a lover’s head of hair. This wafts layers of exotic sensory symbolism through the poem’s inner and external worlds, much of which is evoked through scents and sounds. In this contemporary interpretation, the poem’s mental imagery, symbolism and conceptual elements are transposed to actual sounds and scents, and current understandings of crossmodal correspondences – the universal tendency of a sensory feature in one modality to be matched with one from another sensory modality – are applied and explored. Sensory interactions are harnessed to elicit states of mind, creating subconscious connections that provoke powerful conscious perceptual experiences.
The Seven Functions of the Nose – Fritz-Kahn (1939)
We are recruiting participants for a study investigating how sound might affect the perception of aromas. If you participate, you will listen to a number of music/sounds and smell up to 15 aromas, about which you will be asked a series of questionnaire-based questions. The experiment will take no more than 2 hours and include regular rest breaks.
The study is being conducted by the multimedia artist, Jo Burzynska as part of her PhD research at UNSW as part of a Culture at Work Art-Science Residency. Participants will be given the opportunity to experience the audio-olfactory work that results from the research at the Culture at Work Space at a later date.
Date: Thursday 19thJuly
Venue: Culture at Work, Pyrmont, Sydney
Please note, if you’re interested an can’t make this date, additional sessions may be added earlier that week in the day or evening, or possibly early in the week after – just let us know your availability..
Please contact me to book or ask questions using this form:
This week I have started a month-long Culture at Work Art-Science residency. This culminates in an exhibition of the resulting work between 4 – 12 August at The Accelerator Gallery in Pyrmont, Sydney.
In this residency, I am seeking to identify correspondences between sounds and aromas, examining what might be shared and what is personal, and how memories, emotions, preferences and culture may affect these correlations. I’m teaming up with the cognitive neuroscientist, Associate Professor Anina Rich of Macquarie University, who will be offering me insights into her specialist areas of multisensory processing and syneasthesia, which will both inspire and inform the final audio-olfactory artworks I produce.
The residency will also include a talk that’s part of the Sydney Science Festival, in which Anina Rich and I will discuss our approaches to the multisensory in our work. I will also be leading a Sound and Aroma Tuning Workshop during National Science Week, where participants can create and explore their own audio-olfactory harmonies.