Sillage (MCASD Patron Demographic Profile)
Sillage (MCASD Patron Demographic Profile), olfactory artwork launched at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego's Downtown Jacobs Building, 2011
I was asked to create an olfactory project for an event at the museum billed as "Sensory Overload." The other contributions were from blue chip visual artists, whose work privileged the visual far more than the other senses. In conceiving of this work, I wanted to create a purely olfactory project that used the highly mobile characteristics of smell to playfully impose itself on the other artists' space in the museum. At the same time I wanted to explore the social dynamics of the art institution, which is a recurring theme in my work. The result was Sillage, a collection of 25 fragrances I made for each of the top 25 zip codes known to patronize MCASD. Each fragrance evokes an aspect or set of aspects that are core to that community's (zip code) identity. Event patrons would reveal their zip code to the Museum staff and the staff would spray a corresponding scent on their wrist. A collective scent of the Museum's demographic soon filled the entire space. After the event I took data from the event and used it as a formula for a bottled fragrance that I donated to the museum.
The following text appeared on signage in the museum:
sillage (see-yazh) -noun
1. (French) wake, or path left behind a ship on the surface of the water
2. the sense of a person being present in the room after she has left
To participate: Tell us your zip code and we will spray a fragrance designed for that region on your wrist.
Throughout the evening a collective mass of regionally scented patrons will develop, creating a relational blend of fragrance, an interconnected "profile" scent of MCASD patrons.