Scent is intangible, dynamic, personal and experienced. In every way, it suspends time and makes what would normally be a fleeting instant become more memorable. It has the power to captivate and slow everything down.
"I deeply enjoy composing ambient fragrances (for an audience) and artistic personal perfumes (for individuals). Both extremes evoke very specific emotional responses. Perhaps subjective, they have the ability to become unforgettable memories,” said Olfactory Artist Mindy Yang. “The sense of smell is primal and your scent memory is stronger than sight. I design moments of meaning, provocation and pleasure.”
Fragrance design is an immersive, yet invisible medium. In this process, I’m the composer and the set designer; Elements come together, and suddenly, a complex ethereal landscape is infused into moments. It’s quite magical.
Both known for their multidimensional work with perfume as their medium, Olfactory Artist Mindy Yang (New York) and Master Perfumer Michel Roudnitska (Cabris) shared a dialogue on the theme for FutureFest (London), Nesta’s prominent festival of ideas, talks, and interactive performances to inspire people to shape the future.
As two artists creating on one invisible canvas, Yang and Roudnitska illuminate the future of scent by composing a modern synesthetic expression featuring a revolutionary technical structure spotlighting synthetic ingredients in application.
“We conspired to inspire a sense of immersion, fluidity, infinity, and wonder. Ethereal and effervescent, a celebration of bright silvery beams draw you into stunning flashes of neon,” Yang described FLASH OF LIGHT.
“Flash of Light opens with a sudden and nearly aggressive sensorial stimulus expressed by a sparkling fresh scent of sunny citrus with a rather bitter note of grapefruit and the edgy tip of Litsea Cubeba. These aspects are increased by the blue ginger and the rhubarb with their sharp and pungent notes,” shared Roudnitska.
“I used synesthesia between colors and scents to get a yellow-white/silver-green range of nuances. The olfactive shape had to be very simple and as straight and pure as a laser beam, with no significant side notes.
To express the futuristic dimension, I chose ozonic, sulfuric and salty synthetic molecules, which suggest the infinity of space and the immersion in the etheric levels. Ozone is precisely created in nature by lightning and can be smelled after a storm. Converting Oxygen (O2) into Ozone (O3) produces it. The cycle of oxygen and ozone is just like the cycle of water in nature. Waterfalls, the oceans’ surf, also create ozone. The name ozone itself is derived from the Greek word ‘ozein’ meaning ‘to smell’. This sharp ozonic note represents 30% of the formula, which is a real overdose!
This is an unusual way of composing a fragrance, without any flower except a bit of neroli to improve the diffusion. There are also no heavy base notes, as this fragrance has to be immediately perceived in its wholeness, like the light that is instantaneous and straightforward.
Featuring a long-lasting top note with nearly no heart note and no base note, our composition does not feature the perfume pyramid that we see in the market. Like an eternal present, Flash of Light is an infinite youth… as proposed in the trans humanism.”
“Creating something both ambient and wearable was a design challenge,” shared Yang. “We decided on a signature that may feel familiar at first whiff. Our entirely sustainable composition is fluorescent, energizing and vibrant, however. It reverberates quite highly in frequency. The effect is otherworldly. There is minerality within the beams. Its cool, industrial nuances will deepen as you spend time with FLASH OF LIGHT on the skin,” she concluded.
Too often we take our sense of smell for granted when in fact we all have a touch of synesthesia. Literally meaning ‘joined perception’, our brain’s ability to associate colors with scent* grows sharper with practice. Beyond a lasting impression, scent elicits emotions, excites, inspires, and calls to attention.
Yang and Roudnitska will discuss scent innovation and trends with Dr. Morgaine Gaye on the Social Stage at FutureFest on Sunday, September 18th. Other luminaries for the conference include Luca Turin (Scent Scientist), Brian Eno, Mustafa Suleyman, DJ Spooky, Will Self, and many more. Click here for the complete schedule.