Do you ever have an emotional experience so abstract and deep that language ceases to function as a tool of communication? Before we can communicate, we must first be able to understand and process.
Working in the realm of scent - a space of such abstraction, often when one of our contributing artists are briefing a perfumer on a fragrance they say the phrase “I can’t put a word to this feeling”, so being artists (depending on their practice) they will sketch out or draw something. It similar to the condition Folie À Deux the perfumer must be able to share the artists fantasy or delusion, the artist must successfully impose this delusion on the perfumer without the aid of a common language.
A young artist, and very dear friend of mine Danny Cole recently brought together a group of individuals to participate in an exercise that explores just this. They sought to expand the limitations of individual and shared understanding through a visual based cognitive process - “Welcome Creature”. The premise was that linguistics is limited as a cognitive tool. Language was created to aid the transfer of understanding. In the absence of understanding communication fails to exist. Danny’s exercise lead me to think of a scenario of a person experiencing a scent and without the device of language what tools would they need to communicate their feelings clearly? What processes or state would they need to be in, or implement, to journey deeper into the smell and be able to come out with a way of truly understanding it in relationship to themselves, and what tool could they use to effectively share this experience.
TO RETAIN A TRANSFER OF THIS ABSTRACT UNDERSTANDING FROM THE SUBCONSCIOUS, PARTICIPANTS WERE BROUGHT TO A FAMILIAR DREAM STATE WHILE REMAINING PHYSICALLY AWAKE. IN THE END OF THE PROCESS THEY WERE ABLE TO ARRIVE AT A NATURAL TRANSFER OF ABSTRACT UNDERSTANDING.
“Using a common vessel to explore the subconscious - the Creature, a common ground for communication within language could be replicated without imposing all of the same limitations.” Participants were guided through this journey of the subconscious through the common vessel of the Creature. All communication following the experience was done through storytelling, recounting the experiences of each individual’s personal creature. The Creature and the scenarios people found it in became the language of abstract emotion.
Perhaps we need a similar exercise in perfumery, a Creature. Instead of imposing an image of a scent onto a person, allow the individual to freely uncover what the scent truly means to them. And although they are less likely to rhyme off the actual raw materials used in the fragrance, more meaningfully they will draw something more powerful from the fragrance, a real picture or description far more interesting than any brand, perfumer or fragrance authority can articulate.
THE STEPS TO INDUCE A DREAM STATE ARE SIMPLE, BUT REQUIRE IMMENSE WILL:
LAY DOWN IN A RELAXED POSITION FOR 10 MINUTES
SIMULTANEOUS FOCUS ON ALLOWING BODY TO COLLAPSE INTO PEAK PHYSICAL RELAXATION. LAY ENTIRELY STILL.
MAINTAIN A MENTALLY ACTIVE MIND WITHOUT PHYSICALLY OVERSTIMULATING THE BRAIN
GUIDED FORMATION OF COMMON VESSEL: THE CREATURE
ALLOW THE CREATURE TO EXIST- EXPLORE, DEFINE ENVIRONMENT, INTERACT WITH ENVIRONMENT
UPON COMPLETION OF EXPLORATION PERIOD, REMAIN STILL IN SAME PHYSICAL DREAM STATE AND TAKE MENTAL NOTE OF EACH ASPECT OF THE EXPERIENCE
WHEN READY, SIT UP AND IMMEDIATELY BEGIN TO TRANSFER IT TO PAPER
REFLECT, SHARE & DISCUSS WITH OTHERS
I am so proud and inspired by Danny’s investigation, and even more importantly to see the work and ideas of a young artist transcend ink on paper into psychological and social spaces. Also, to see the willingness of the youth to explore the depths of their emotions and express themselves through this shared experience.