‘Scenser’ is an installation and performance piece by Karima Sulaiman and Arjuna Benson. The project was a commissioned work for the Reinvigoration Centre as part of the Pitch Music and Arts Festival 2020. The Reinvigoration Centre was curated as a place of rest, relaxation and recuperation from the frenetic experience of the music festival.
‘Scenser’ explores the rituals of scent, movement and meditation using references from religious and spiritual practice. The work comprised of two hand made censers and a series of burning rituals performed twice a day for the duration of the festival.
By reinterpreting the artefact of the censer into a contemporary flower like shape made from poured resin and hung with industrial metal fixtures, the artist pulls the iconography of the object away from its histories. The two censers were hung in tandem from the central chamber of the Reinvigoration centre. The repeated ritual saw the burning of three resin incenses over the course of the weekend, each selected for their healing properties and significance within different cultural and spiritual traditions. Swung deliberately to disperse the scent as the holders moved methodically through the space.
The project is part of a larger series of scent encounters, presented by the artist under the moniker ‘Scentscaper’. Across the body of works, scent is explored through its connections with memory, intimacy and spirituality with references to its use in aromatherapy and restorative practices.
This was a commisioned work for the Reinvigoration Centre produced by Practice Studio Practice as part of the Pitch Music and Arts Festival 2019. A different scent was curated for each day of the centre was open. The scents were diffused in large custom ultrasonic diffusers, with the ingredients of the scents being dispersed displayed on top of the diffuser. Having a different scent each day allowed patrons of the Reinvigoration Centre to associate memories of each day with a different scent. The scents were introduced each morning over the speakers. Combining my own experience of the scents with some aromatherapy concepts. The voice-overs were delivered in a style that I would describe as being halfway between a pilot’s spiel before the plane lands and a weather report.
0468-LONELY / CALL LONELY
‘CALL LONELY’ was a scent art work commisioned by Something Unlimited, a one day music festival in Melbourne. The project consisted of a series of three specially curated scents to be diffused over the course of the day. The scents were diffused through ultrasonic misters with led lights. The misters were housed in custom built perspex boxes. The futristic aesthetic of the boxes was contrasted with a looped video that displayed the ingredients in each scent and the times they were being diffused. The video was styled like a nineties late night phone line advertisement. The number on the screen was an active phone number allowing people to call and listen to a voice message about the scent dispersed at the time, and inviting them to leave a voice message about any memories the scent may have drawn out in them. People could also text the number to leave a message with their response to the scents.
Smell is inextricably linked to memory and emotion; “the smell of _____evokes a sense of ______.” This project uses scent as a medium and examines that link through playful iterations. This project challenges how we define and interpret art in public space, where monument and mural are the most common mediums. The project for Noble Park was expressed through two iterations. Both were branded the way your local landscaper might be. The first iteration of the project was the trigger trained ‘Scentscaper’ who mists the scent of eucalyptus on to the old Redgum stump that commemorates the birth of Noble Park. By re-scenting the stump, the Scentscaper is illuminating past memories and encounters of this place whilst inviting new memories to be triggered and fused with old ones as the scent of eucalyptus wafts by.
The second iteration of this project was a ‘memory diffuser’, in the form of a retired public ashtray. This familiar object had its role reversed. Rather than a smoker putting smoke in, sweet scented smoke came puffing out of its own accord. Inside burned incense collected in India. These two iterations form a foundation for future explorations into scent based installation. The ‘Scentscaper’ project uses familiar characters, objects and branding to convey the mood of the project beyond the scent alone. It allows the audience to engage with the project without physically experiencing the installation, relying on past experiences and smell memory to fill in the blanks.
‘Scentscaper’ is the pseudonym or umbrella name for a series of investigations surrounding scent and memory and how that can be explored through installation. The projects reflect different experiences of memory and use scent as both a trigger, a catalyst and a method of communication. I began the project in the first semester of my Master of Art in Public Space in 2018. The most recent exploration was installed at the Pitch Music and Arts Festival in March 2020.