Valienska Magfira

What makes the essence of a city?

Diffusion: Essence de Rabot by Yeb Wiersma and Lotte Geeven

Diffusion: Essence de Rabot is a project by Dutch multidisciplinary artists Yeb Wiersma and Lotte Geeven. It is about capturing the scent of a certain day, of emotions, and of a city through the scents of it’s people.

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Diffusion: Essence de Rabot by Yeb Wiersma and Lotte Geeven videostill - Yeb Wiersma, Lotte Geeven, Fan Liao

Yeb and Lotte conducted the project in Rabot, a dynamic neighborhood in the city of Ghent, Belgium. They’ve collected 100 participants, all of whom are residents and workers of the neighborhood. On the day of October 6th 2017, the participants are told to do their daily routine while wearing a white t-shirt that is to be collected the next day to be preserved in a freezer. From these 100 shirts, Yeb and Lotte proceed to distill the sweat, pheromones, and oils to be combined all together to create the Essence of Rabot of October 6th 2017.

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Map of Signal Molecules in Diffusion: Essence de Rabot - Yeb Wiersma, Lotte Geeven

It is a perfume with the molecules of all kinds of emotions that was occurring during this day. Some t-shirts have gone through a bad day while some may have gone through a good one. Although it can just come to show through the smell of the perfume. Diffusion: Essence de Rabot opens possibilities for research for olfactory culture. We can imagine now what smell would be in the air during memorable and iconic moments through history.  

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Visual artists Yeb Wiersma and Lotte Geeven - Giulia Menicucci

There is a whole science behind our bodily and physical reaction to our emotions. They can be released through sweat, oils, pheromones, and body odor. Subsequently, we also know that we also have an unconscious reaction to other people's similar secretions too! During our Odorama event about foul smells where Yeb and Lotte presented Diffusion, they’ve also shared how they were attracted to a scent of one of the shirts they collected without knowing who it belonged to. After looking up who it did belong to, it was a completely different person to one they have expected!

We’ve explored the science between attraction and body in the past during Museumnacht 2016 with artist Lauryn Mannigel’s experimentative installation Love Sweat Love. Similarly, environmental engineer Tega Brain created a dating application through only scents called Smell Dating.