ANCIENT FUTURE INCENSE Bio Art. Video instalation.
The scent organ was playing a delightfully refreshing Herbal Capriccio- rippling arpeggios of thyme and lavender, of rosemary, basil, myrtle, tarragon; a series of daring modulations through the spice keys into ambergris; and a slow return through sandalwood, camphor, cedar and new mown hay back to the simple aromatics with which the piece began.
Aldous Leonard Huxley
Brave New Word
The world was deprived of the scent of afarsimon for two thousand years – i.e. from the moment of its extinction. Nowadays, scientists have recreated the afarsimon in sufficient quantities to obtain an extract. This extract used to be one of the 11 ingredients of the qetoret ("incense offering") that was burned in the ancient Jewish Temple. For contemporary people, the fragrance of the afarsimon is a totally unfamiliar scent, utterly dissimilar to anything they might have smelled before.
The video installation consists of two screens. The first screen shows a video of a young afarsimon tree in its natural habitat in the Dead Sea region. The second screen displays a video showing the project creator letting various individuals smell a phial with afarsimon extract, and then asking them a fixed set of questions:
- What's that smell?
- What does it smell like?
- What do you feel when you smell it?
- Do you like it? Why or why not?
The creator lets the visitors feel the smell of the afarsimon in the exhibition hall, enabling them to compare their own sensations with those of the people shown in the video. The world of smells is a powerful informational and sensory portal. Smells enable modern people to broaden their experience and familiarize themselves with the ancient world, bridging the gap between the two periods.