basic transmutation (first ideas)



The perception of fragrance creates a deep chemical sense of immediacy in the body which somatically integrates more distant optical and acoustical senses in the synesthetic experience. Because of its chemical (molecular) immediacy, fragrance gives a sense of the immediate present, of being in present time. Within the context of shamanic thought, present time is the optimum window in which to effect a change in consciousness. It implies a state of total attention and awareness.”

Perfumeros and the sacred used of fragrance in Amazonian Shamanism. Jhon J. Steele The smell culture reader, Edited by Jim Drobnick

Cosmetic industry goes hand in hand with the pharmaceutic and food ones. All three infiltrate our bodies, modifying, conditioning, healing and sickening them. Are we to forget how to take care of ourselves, perfume, heal without any silicon or mineral oils, without any patents on plants, without any parabens, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Nitrosamines, DEA, MEA, TEA …?

My proposal is to realize a performance-research focusing on the flowers, leaves, roots, resins, stems and fruits used for cosmetics or medicine, which can be foundt in the places we will be visiting with the Transformer. Thus learning from the knowledge of these matters among the local population.

Learning through dialogue. Walking around, identifying plants, making a plant collection. Inscribing ourselves in those gaps between botanics and cosmetics, popular medicine and magic. Learning recipes. Being grateful for the knowledge shared through gestures of basic alchemic transmutation and performative actions reenacting that richness.

We will collect plants, saps and resins. With fire, water and a homemade still (using a pressure cooker or other DIY solutions) we will extract hydrolates and essential oils from those plants. With a mortar we will make powders and pastes. We will macerate with oil and alcohol. Mixing, macerating, boiling. Bottling, storing, distributing. To develop performances in which smells – “the souls of the plants” – would convey the experience. To compose landscapes and olfactory fragments inscribed in the territory. To remember local medicine which operates through skin and smell. Chasing away mosquitoes, soothing burns, awakening the senses.

As an analogy to our subtle relationship with plants, we will propose actions where stimuli anterior to the visual ones will be prioritized. Looking at each other only as a means to be together, smelling aromas, feeling slightly annoyed, traveling through time. To notice the power and the ancestral/popular knowledge, through gestures reminding us that this know-how should not replicate the fate of the alchemists “The obscure and secretive writings of the alchemists was used as a case by those who wished to forward a fraudulent and non-scientific opinion of alchemy. In order to protect the developing science of modern chemistry from the negative censure of which alchemy was being subjected, academic writers during the scientific Enlightenment attempted, for the sake of survival, to separate and divorce the « new » chemistry from the « old » practices of alchemy. This move was mostly successful, and the consequences of this continued into the 19th and 20th centuries, and even to the present day..”1

This project also aims at questioning, from the perspective of our performances, two major topics in media art : immersion and interactivity. We will try to position ourselves on the edges of the commonly assumed notion of immersion, which reduces it to a post-cybernetic relation where an automated tautology makes us apparently communicate with ourselves rather than bring us to meet the Other. The idea here is to conceive situations where the idea of immersion would not be associated to visual stimulation, but rather to other sensitive vectors such as touch or smell. We will be able to reconstitute gardens inside little bottles, to improvise lectures while burning fragrances, to massage each other, to make poultice, to set up a shop for personalized perfumes, to tell stories on scented paper, chase away evil spirits and raise good ones. We will try to build an alembic with recycled material and spread this form of distillation.

We will do all of this or none of this, the idea being that the territory and the people met make visible what we will be creating all together.

Traduction Pedro Jiménez Morrás


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