In 1902 artist Sadakichi Hartmann attempted to stage a scent concert in New York, promising to transport the audience to Japan through smell and atmospherics. He was meet with jeers and boos by the audience, took his final bow halfway through the concert and never performed the show again. So goes the short version of the story that has inspired A Trip to Japan in Sixteen Minutes, Revisited, a recreation of Hartmann’s concert by the Institute for Art and Olfaction (IAO) at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles this January.
The IAO aims to present the show as Hartmann intended. There will be six original scent compositions by perfumer Sherri Sebastian, which will be emitted through a modern interpretation of Hartmann’s ‘scent machine’ created by Kamil Beski and Eric Vrymoed. The scents will be accompanied by an original soundtrack by Bennett Barbakow with live sound effects by Julia Owen. The experiential concert will be heightened by the fact that the audience will remain blindfolded to be truly immersed in their olfactory surroundings.
If it all comes off, they will achieve Hartmann’s goal of transporting audiences to Japan. As the original notice in the October 6th 1902 New York Times advertised at the time:
Any nose that pays for his or her seat will be wafted from New York by successive puffs of perfumes, until time and space being eliminated, the shores of Japan are scented, and amid a delicious burst of odors… the nose will be guaranteed in Yokohama, no matter in what region that clod the body may have left behind!
Source: Hammer Museum