Scent of Time - Form of Scent

Author: Hiroshi Koyama

Image 1  The Form of Scent  exhibited at Shoyeido Gallery, Kyoto (2019) - Swedish black granite, incense, video

Image 1 The Form of Scent exhibited at Shoyeido Gallery, Kyoto (2019) - Swedish black granite, incense, video

For the exhibition in Kyoto I approached the theme of nostalgia by using two types of material, one with smell (incense) and the other without (salt).

In terms of creating a comfortable space for the elderly I sought to attain this by experimenting with the gallery space as an imaginary living space that included art works they could encounter and respond to.

Image 2  The Scent of Time  exhibited at Shoyeido Gallery, Kyoto (2019) Swedish black granite, rock salt

Image 2 The Scent of Time exhibited at Shoyeido Gallery, Kyoto (2019) Swedish black granite, rock salt

In the artwork The Scent of Time ancient rock salt from the Himalaya mountains is ground by a stone mill, 'releasing' an imaginary smell that might flow as a result of this process. The resulting finely ground salt is gathered by hand and formed into small mountain like piles.

Image 3  The Scent of Time  (detail)

Image 3 The Scent of Time (detail)

In response to this installation some elderly people commented that they were intent on turning the stone mill and suddenly remembered that they had had a similar experience in their childhood.

The Form of Scent was an installation comprised of a projected video in a darkened room together with a permeating smell of incense. Those experiencing this commented that, as they sat in front of the video projection of the endlessly moving incense smoke, they lost track of time for a long while.

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Both of these works express the feeling that it is important in modern society to create a space where people can empty their minds. When encountering  a particular smell in such a space, this can evoke stronger memories from the past.  

If, through encountering art of this kind, those visiting the exhibition could be induced to recall past memories evoked more readily through smell and associated stimulation, it may be speculated that this will also be of relevance for the elderly and those with memory impairment who might otherwise struggle to recollect previously forgotten memories.