time in a bottle

German perfumer Kim Weisswange has delivered on the age-old longing to bottle time. Her recent scent calendar proposes to capture each day in a different scent based on the mixture of scents that represent a specific month and day to make unique accords for all 365 days of the year.

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Introducing Madeleine – Memory Capture of the Future

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London designer Amy Radcliff has succeeded in prototyping a camera of the future. Her elegant device, coyly named Madeleine in a wink to Proust fans, uses headspace technology to capture, analyze and reproduce odor compositions of actual objects in small capsules. The product is as disposable as current-day visual captures.

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scent comedy

Marcel Duchamp would chuckle at the latest hijinks of Dutch art duo Lernert and Sander. Their perfume “Everything” is a stylized slop bucket of samples of each and every fragrance released in 2012. It’s available for sniffing at Colette in Paris but we wish it were being showcased at the BHV.Image

deconstructing perfume

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The Art of Scent exhibit at New York’s Museum of Art and Design is a foray into how perfumes are born. It is a minimalist yet visually striking exhibit that surveys a brief history of Western perfumery through key fragrances. The twelve fragrances showcased are all scents that were available on the market at some point. Beginning with Guerlain’s Jicky (1889) and ending with Margiela’s Untitled (2010)ach scent represents a particular trend in fragrance.

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The first room is an open airy space with twelve yonic wells installed in the wall that emit a motion-sensitive gust of perfumed air. It is a surprisingly gentle way to experience each scent. There are timed privalite displays in the place of plaques to explain the historical significance and composition of each fragrance.

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The second room is even more hands on with a long glass table and chairs where visitors can sit and experience a more potent version of the twelve fragrances by dipping scent strips into small vials of the actual perfume in liquid form. At opposite ends of the table there are two options for contributing feedback on the exhibit that is projected in a real-time word cloud on a wall. One is an ipad that captures word associations for each individual experience of the fragrances. The other is a white notebook in which guests may record their personal associations with scent. The wall installation takes visitors through the process of building a fragrance through different modifications. The walls deliver a card for each of the five “mods” of Lancome’s popular fragrance Trésor (1990).

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The Art of Scent evokes the wonderfully subjective and ephemeral nature of fragrance in an immersive experience that speaks to all of the five senses. If only there was more of an aural component other than video recordings of interviews. Nonetheless, the exhibit promises an exciting future for multisensorial art made possible by cutting-edge technology.

 

The Art of Scent is at the Museum of Art and Design, 11, Columbus Circle, NY, NY 10019 until February 24, 2013

scented song

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It seems Boris Vian wasn’t the only Frenchman keen on combining music and other senses. In 1922, Science and Invention featured an illustration of a scent organ inspired by perfumer and chemist Dr. Septimus Piesse’s theories about syncing scent and musical notes. When played, Piesse’s scent organ, like Vian’s pianocktail, would produce an odor (or a cocktail in Vian’s case) that corresponds to a given pattern tapped on the organ’s keys. Notorious jazzman Vian took it a step further, however, by simultaneously producing a cocktail representation of a musical tune.

We eagerly anticipate the appearance of his pianocktail in Michel Gondry’s film adaptation of Vian’s novel. Mood Indigo is slated for release in early spring 2013.

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