and the sound art work, Breath, Essence, and (After)image.

The installation One Billion, Four Hundred Ninety-Five Million, Eight Hundred Fifty-Two Thousand, Twenty-Four (1,495,852,024) (Steffany Martz Gallery, 1998) served as an original work in itself and as an introduction to World Sensorium. The number represents the total population, in the year 2000, of China, Pakistan, Algeria, Kenya, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Paraguay, Macau, and Djibouti, the countries that identified jasmine as their most culturally significant scent. Just as 1,495,852,024 represents 24.5862 percent of the world’s population in the year 2000, jasmine makes up 24.5862 percent of the formula of the world scent. In the installation, the composition of different species of jasmine was disseminated into the gallery. The jasmine composition was also formulated on the population percentages of the countries.

An installation view of Gayil Nalls’s 1,495,852,024 at the Steffany Martz Gallery, New York. (Gayil Nalls © 1998–2008)

The installation also included large-scale photographic prints on canvas taken by photojournalists. This type of large-visual-field human portraiture showed different views of massing events within the countries represented by the jasmine scent during the year 1998. The primary aesthetic concern of each photo was the overall composition of the massing portraits, i.e., the patterning created by the individual bodies. These images were an exploration of the theory of the Aesthetics of Mass Anatomy: Are there compositional patterns that the mind imprints and recalls, allowing patterns to be reconstructed? The massing portraits were juxtaposed alongside close-up photographic images on canvas of jasmine shrubs. These images were taken in an attempt to re-create the compositional patterns in the massing photojournalistic images. The intent was to try and recall the photojournalistic images of massing events and re-create the patterning while photographing the jasmine to see if there were matching patterns that could be identified from memory. The images were exhibited with the massing portraits on the left, the jasmine flower images on the right, and a bottle of a jasmine essential oil blend, engraved with the name of the country in which the massing portrait was taken and the number of people in that country.

Algeria Jasmine Triptych, 1998, comprised two digital oil-emulsified ink canvas prints (each 30 x 42 inches) and a 2.2 oz. bottle containing jasmine essential oil (the front was engraved with Algeria 31,787,646, and the back engraved with 1,495,852,024). (Gayil Nalls © 1998–2008)

The sound art piece of breathing in a 7:1 pattern, entitled Breath, Essence, and (After)image, filled the space at a barely perceptible level. The auditory pattern enhanced the sensory awareness, serving as a cue to convey the message of experiencing an artwork through inhaling: that is, indexing the scent through the sound of breathing.

Gayil Nalls recording breathwork for the CD edition of Breath, Essence, and (After)image, which was created to heighten olfactory sensory experience. Breath, Essence, and (After)image was distributed in a signed and numbered CD edition as well at the gallery. It included an image of a fragmented tree resembling a human form, as well as a photo of a massing event that I took. The jacket also contained a jasmine-scented card. (Gayil Nalls © 1998–2008)

The significance of this work to World Sensorium not only lay in the preliminary nature of the installation (i.e., a ‘warm-up’ for World Sensorium), but also the multimedia nature of the exhibition and the links established between massing and scent through the introduction of an element towards enacting a collective metabolic experience. 1,495,852,024 also underscored one of the main theses for Permutatude—namely, the remote experience of massing through media.


World Sensorium

© 1997-2008, by Gayil Nalls

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