21.10.20

Artist Statement

Artist Statement

Smells for the Paris Agreement, premier at Mazda 100 years anniversary
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[Artist Statement]
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I am deeply grateful to Mazda and the agent for inviting me here and commissioning my new work.
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I have been working in the Netherlands as an olfactory artist since 2005. I am now considered to be one of the most prominent artists in this particular field of contemporary art.
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This work is an epidemic in my long career.  This is because it is the first time I have tackled the social problem as global warming.
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Climate change is a serious global problem. Why is it so hot in Paris in the middle of September? 
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What can we do about it with smells?  For example, can we change the way we feel hot and cold with olfaction? This  question was my starting point.
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The title of the work is: Smells for the Paris Agreement.
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I am diffusing a cooling fragrance and a warming fragrance, made with scientific data, in each of two spaces that are controlled to have the same temperature.
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You are all witnesses and test subjects for this little experiment.
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I asked a young scientist Jas Brooks from Chicago University for advice which molecules to use. I also read the paper regarding trigeminal nerves and transient receptor potential(TRP), the receptors related to temperature.
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What was fascinating to me was that, like perfumery, it's important to have a balance between the components.  Some components can be both cooling and warming. Methyl Salicylate is a good example.  This is a common scent used in a cold and a warm patch.  When combined with black pepper, it works for warmth, and when combined with eucalyptol or menthol, it works for coolness.
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The following components were used in the final composition.  They are mostly Synesthetic:
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{The Cooling Fragrance}
menthol
eucalyptol
thymol
citral
cinnamaldehyde
linalool
methyl salicylate

{The Warming Fragrance}
Black pepper
Camphor
Eugenol
Red Chili Extract (self extracted)
Methyl Salicylate
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Interestingly, linalool, eugenol and cinnamaldehyde, which I used for a cooling fragrance, are considered “warm scents” in perfumery.  This is where science and art differ.  In this work, I faithfully followed the science.
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It's also interesting to note that Menthol, the heart of a cooling fragrance, only works at temperatures below 25 degrees Celsius.  Today, it's hard to get below 25, so it's possible that the cooling room isn't working properly.  I wasn't expecting it to get this hot... climate change.
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In my own experiment I found that my throat was dry in the warm room.  Yesterday's guest described its dry feel as "cork-like".
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My lungs were cold in the cold room, and I also felt cold where I sweated.
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Smells are absorbed by the body through mucous membranes and sweat glands, even if we don't feel they are smells.  Enjoy the intersection of the senses of smell and touch.


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