In 1902 the German Japanese poet, artist, and critic Sadakichi Hartmann, also known as the “king of bohemians,” led a much-anticipated scent concert at the New York Theatre. Promising to suspend space and time, the concert was designed to offer an olfactory voyage from New York to Japan such that the “nose [was] guaranteed arrival in Yokohama.” After several production delays, the concert was slotted as the penultimate act on a popular Sunday burlesque music and comedy series. In a room filled with tobacco smoke and boisterous crowds, the act was doomed to fail. The artist bowed mid-performance amid catcalls and jeers and left the stage, never to publicly revisit the project.
The Los Angeles–based Institute for Art and Olfaction picks up where Hartmann gave up, presenting a collaborative contemporary interpretation of the failed scent concert at the Hammer Museum. A Trip to Japan in Sixteen Minutes, Revisited consists of six segments, each accompanied by an original scent composition made by perfumer Sherri Sebastian. Through a reinvention of Hartmann’s propagation mechanism by Kamil Beski and Eric Vrymoed, the scents will be released into the room in time to an original sound track by Bennett Barbakow and live Foley elements by Julia Owen - the whole elucidated in a limited edition program by Micah Hahn. Participants will be blindfolded so that they can enjoy an immersive olfactory experience that, in an updated version of Hartman’s ill-fated voyage, takes them from modern-day Los Angeles to Tokyo.