- between you and the creation over the years
- between you and the other people around you
- between different generations (see the revival of aldehydes)
The art of fragrances as it happens now might have features similar to what Nicolas Bourriaud calls Relational Art, which he characterizes in the following way: "a kind of art that takes as its theoretical horizon the sphere of human interactions and its social contexts, rather than the affirmation of a symbolic space that is autonomous and private", thus making "relational" and "private" opposites (Bourriaud, Esthétique relationelle).
Of course, there is a great difference between the examples of Bourriaud and the practices found in the industry / consumer's society but this description could make us understand more about the deep relations between us / the fragrances / the commercial success over the years. It can be also a new direction for a different kind of perfumery.
What else are perfumes today that a form of interaction, through the scent or through the message they carry? My blog and all the forms of social media can witness this power of social interaction beyond any type of commercial intention.
Also, through the art of fragrances are defined several important social references that have the value of olfactory symbols for generations. There is no absolute notion of clean, young, pretty, sexy, dirty but a relative interpretation in terms of scents that are determined by fragrances. The standards evolve everywhere. The choice made by perfumers and then accepted by consumers become references in a society. Any of those notions have their "formula", a set of molecules. Citrus, lavender, lily of the valley, ambroxan, galaxolide. A deliberate choice followed by the interaction with the members of society has the power to shape our perception. Now, the reference for gourmand is ethyl maltol and Angel, but they did not exist before the intentional action of the perfumer when this type of note was released.
Until recently, when fragrances became more intimate and the olfactophobia a concern in some parts of the world, the major intention behind many perfumes was "social". They were meant to be shared, enjoyed, represent a personal signature and in all cases to sustain the social interaction. You may call it sexual attraction as it was understood by many.
Social context - the study of trends, the reflections on tastes and an aesthetic reflection projected on future. Until the plethora of flankers, perfumes were meant and intended to stay at least 10 years on shelves. The notion of trends was totally different from the seasonal fashion concept. Creating a new fragrance was forecasting the mood of the future understanding the aesthetic values of tomorrow.
Nicolas Bourriaud says also that "the role of artworks is no longer to form imaginary and utopian realities, but to actually be ways of living and models of action within the existing real, whatever scale chosen by the artist." Shared activity means also shared scents.
Last night I was at a cosmetic conference and I deliberately choose to wear a pleasant perfume sketch with a strong diffusion woody-ambery-sandalwood. Even after 2 hours the scent invited to conversation and I started to share fragrant opinions and debates with people I've never met before. It worked like nectar for bees because it was diffusive and unusual to the scents of the day. In the description of Relational Art, the audience is seen as a community and relational art produces intersubjective encounters where the meaning is elaborated collectively and not in the individual space. My last night "social experiment" had no artistic intention but what I learned was a new meaning to the scent - I was not aware about several facets. The perception of the others revealed through short conversations brought something new.
We can say the same about several classic perfumes that were reviewed and presented by the community of fragrance lovers in the past 5 years. New meanings emerged, sometime never revealed before. Also, new meanings appear with new perfumes following the same pattern.
The art of fragrances produce human relations and we could imagine a new form of perfumery that takes human relations or social context as point of departure.
(To be continued)
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Fragrance is the 8th Art - Octavian Coifan - Le Parfum est le 8ème Art