Smell-o-vision: Christopher Brosius at Klein Art

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Christopher Brosius
Originally uploaded by sokref1.

The perfumer Christopher Brosius has installed scores of glass test tubes and other laboratory vessels at Klein Art Gallery and filled them with eau de “soaked earth, coffin, old fur coat, clean baby butt” and other essences concocted in his perfume labs.

All the little jars are numbered but nowhere does the exhibit announce what exactly you’re sniffing in which jar or tube, and as I leaned over one, two, and 15 times and couldn’t really get a clear reading on the scent (does odor have a temporal quality — it must take a certain number of seconds to get up the nasal passages and reach the brain — maybe I was moving too fast) I got frustrated and decided to focus instead on the visuals which are actually kind of nice in a sci-art kind of way.

There are blankets imbued with scent, and a row of flowers soaking up scent so that they smell not like flowers but like anything but. There’s a big pink plexiglas box lit from within that is both beckoning and a little forbidding. A round opening in the front seems to invite you to put a hand inside but I wondered to what purpose? The box’s opening is too low to invite you to put your head inside so I didn’t want to try that.

The small sand table is a nice touch and people have been writing in the sand, little messages and smiley faces. The shades of green liquid in the glass vessels is nice, too. The green liquid doesn’t really suggest dune grass but the colors are great and they complement the pink box nicely.

What did get triggered in my mind while I was looking at all the laboratory paraphenalia was my memory of hearing Eric Schlosser on Fresh Air a while back as he talked about chemical production of “natural flavors” and how those natural flavors are produced in laboratories and factories in Northern New Jersey. Read his Atlantic article . Or listen to the interview here.

So maybe the essence of this show is to demonstrate how we don’t live in a laboratory and that our senses cannot be trapped in test tubes. Anyway, the exhibit is one of Klein’s Art and Science shows and there are several free lectures and discussions to partake of but you must register. Information is on the gallery’s website. The show’s up to July 1. I have more photos at flickr.

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christopher brosius

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