Nighttime photo of a crowd of people celebrating in Times Square in New York with confetti falling and bright lights

World Sensorium Premiere

World Sensorium is an olfactory social sculpture: a single scent composed of culturally associative aromatic materials of world flora. As a chemical art object, it has been experienced by vast numbers of people through celebrations, exhibitions and events throughout the world creating positive meaning. 

Sensorium means the mind-brain, the cerebral cortex, and the nervous system as a collective organ of sensation; feeling, receiving, perceiving, sensing, and interpreting. World Sensorium’s name reflects an awareness that can be obtained individually in a collective experience.

World Sensorium premiered as an official part of New York City’s millennium event “Times Square 2000: The Global Celebration at the Crossroads of the World,” where for 24 hours around New Year’s Eve, the peoples and cultures of nations around the world were celebrated through sight, sound, and—with World Sensorium— scent.

The climax of the event was at midnight in New York. At that moment, from 13 buildings around Times Square, thousands of World Sensorium scent strips cascaded down with confetti to herald in the new millennium, as searchlights scanned the crowd.

The World Sensorium paperwork’s are 4 ½-inch paper squares, micro-encapsulated with the World Sensorium scent. Individuals enjoyed a common participatory sensory experience as they embodied the unique experience of the world as one. They pulled open the paperwork containing 10 grams of the world scent, and engaged their sense of smell with the environmentally derived artifact. 

Two million people were at Times Square 2000 and millions of television viewers watched worldwide. One of the creative goals of the collective experience of World Sensorium as to evolve the technological collective to include a metabolic one. World Sensorium is a universal network of molecular data that allows access to a wide array of information about the state of the world. It is a creative force for change, the betterment of society, and its preservation of natural wealth.”

World Sensorium was also included in the President’s and Mrs. Clinton’s “Millennium Around the World” gala at the International Trade Center in Washington, D.C., co-hosted by Madeline Albright, where it was presented to Ambassadors, and families from the international diplomatic community. Part of the daylong event celebrated children, the world’s future leaders, and messengers of their hopes for peace.

World Sensorium disseminated a unifying message, in a universally understood and groundbreaking way. The Times Square 2000 celebration and The Millennium Around the World gala were the first of many to include World Sensorium.  

World Sensorium was endorsed by The President’s Committee for the Arts and the Humanities and was officially granted the sponsorship of UNESCO (The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) on the occasion of its launch at Times Square 2000, simultaneously with the UN’s International Year for the Culture of Peace. 

The letter of endorsement from UNESCO was issued on September 5, 1998 from the Director-General Federico Mayor, known for his work in brain biochemistry. Even though UNESCO does not recognize smells in the definition of cultural heritage, UNESCO’s former Director-General felt the research and the one world scent would increase understanding of the hard-to-describe aspects of cultural heritage that would strengthen the bonds between peoples and nations. He called World Sensorium, “a highly original cultural initiative” a “truly international experience leading to better understanding and collaboration among nations.”

Later in 2000, World Sensorium was part of the Vatican’s Millennium Jubilee and in the exhibition SacroSanto, at Sala 1 and The Civic Museum for Contemporary Art in Rome, Italy

The exhibition goal for artwork remains for it to be experienced by as many people as possible.