“Audiolfactory Creolization” is an interactive installation which combines sounds with smells to reveal the complexity of creolized identities in Chicago. I started this project in 2009 by engaging in conversations with community members who shared a “mixed” experience: mixed race, mixed culture, transgender, bilingual or trilingual, and especially people who, through personal experience, have come up with their own definition of hybridity. I asked them to relate their experience to scents. The scents are: Pressurized Air, Tibetan Incense, Pine Tree, Tree of Heaven, Fresh Cut Grass, Soil, Chinese Incense and Moth Balls, Chai, Rum, Tar, Leather. In addition, I collaborated with sound artists to create audio files that would supplement the scents, and would thus assist the visitor in recognizing and understanding the fragrances. The sonic structure of each audio file also attempts at expressing “creolization.” Thus sounds and smells converge to propose a fragmentary experience of creolization in Chicago. There are five audio tracks associated to each scents, so there is a total of 55 audio tracks (11 X 5). Each time a visitor activates one of the scent diffusers, one of these five tracks is randomly chosen by Pure Data from its pool of five. Hence it ensures a rich and diverse aural experience, while managing the flow of information, should the visitor decide to linger. The interactive component of this installation was built with Processing and an Arduino board and used computer vision to monitor the displacements of visitors.
scents: Christophe Laudamiel and Michel Roudnitska; sounds: Christophe Gilmore AKA FluiD, Spencer Hutchinson, Rebecca Pavlatos, Travis; sound engineering (Pure Data): Benjamin F. Carney.
“This project is partially supported by a Community Arts Assistance Program grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.”
For further discussion of these ideas, please see my interview on the blog of Bad At Sports: http://badatsports.com/2011/accents-on-the-hyphen-gwenn-ael-lynn-on-hyrbidity/
This installation is also featured on the cover of the ISEA Location 2014 Proceedings (Dubai, Zayed University Books -ISBN 978-9948-18-239-9) and I authored a text Creolized Olfactory Spaces that can be found pps 214-217