SciArt Magazine - All Issues - Page 18

“La Perfume De Therese” (perfume by Frederic Malle) is an effervescent and lively fragrance with notes of plum, melon, leather, and tangerine. It is a sheer thin suede orange background with a fuzzy purple streak. “Carnal Flower” (perfume by Frederic Malle) is a fragrance with notes of tuberose absolute, eucalyptus, jasmine, and coconut. It is a hazy, fuzzy sheer green background with sheer burgundy rectangles throughout that repeat randomly in an infinite pattern. The texture of the painting is delicate, gauzy, and sheer. “Un Fleur de Cassie” (perfume by Frederic Malle) is an elegant, sharp, unusual fragrance with notes of mimose, carnation, jasmine, and cassis. It smells like a powdery, unevenly yellow thin suede-like background with a few large purple streaks. al and olfactory-auditory synesthesia. She would cook by adding spices until her food sounded like a symphony, and occasionally created artthemed foods, such as a cheesecake flavored to reproduce the color scheme of Van Gogh’s painting Starry Night. When I am with her, I have to adjust my behavior, as doing something as small as clicking a carabiner absentmindedly might cause everything to flash blue. I realized we lived in incredibly different subjective realities, something I found both personally and scientifically fascinating. As I read and learned more about synesthesia, I got better at recognizing it in people and ended up discovering that several of my friends and acquaintances likely have some form of synesthesia. So when I heard that Lauren—a perfumery student just out of high school—had managed to beat multiple experienced perfumers for a job, it wasn’t much of a leap to guess she might have some kind of olfactory synesthesia in addition to having a very sensitive and trained nose. I am pleased to say I was right and that collaborating with Lauren ever since has been both a privilege and a pleasure. 18 How are you using the SciArt Center Grant? KO: We used a portion of the money to buy art supplies to create sample paintings of synesthetic visualizations. Lauren is in the process of creating a series of artworks depicting her synesthetic experience of fragrance. In particular, she is choosing perfumes that she enjoys, that produce vivid and aesthetic visual imagery, and that illustrate the range and variety of colors, shapes, and textures she experiences. On the other hand, I am trying to figure out how to quantify these in a way that is reproducible and consistent. How do you quantify a color or shape? Can we reduce these pieces of art to a series of numbers that represent color, shape, texture, size, or pattern in a way that is satisfactory to both Lauren and myself? Quantification of visual imagery has turned out to be a greater challenge than I had imagined upon starting this project. However, being able to see Lauren’s art and discuss how she perceives it has been enormously helpful. I am working on obtaining approval for human subject research so that we can actu- SciArt in America April 2015