Frank Bloem is an artist who uses scent as his main medium. He studied Fine Arts at the Rietveld Academy. In the summer of 2016, Frank changed his specialism from visual art to olfactory-based works and started The Snifferoo. This perfume laboratory is a place for education and experiments around smell. He made several personalized perfumes, hosts regular workshops, and has recreated the elephant smell of Artis, the Amsterdam Zoo.
Scent is as important as sight and a primary means of communication. Animals use scent to mark territory and in some ways the musk of Calvin Klein is a mark of personal territory. Scent is one of your most powerful faculties and affects emotions, memory and creativity. Every species scent is unique – not even identical twins smell precisely alike. The power of the nose is far greater than anyone realises. Smell is used as a disguise globally and across the food chain for numerous reasons such as being more attractive or hunting down your dinner. Animals use their scent as a primary tool for creating friends and enemies. Humans' relationship to smell is much more subconscious than our counterparts. We mainly use it to disguise and enhance our natural smell but also to taste and relax. It is also used for religious/spiritual purposes dating back to the 4th century.
The first fragrance used by the Mesopotamians was incense about 4000 years ago for religious ceremonies. The sense of a smell belonging to something is a powerful tool to create sensual memories which in essence bring people together. I’ve had experiences myself where smell has brought me back to a place, object or person and is one of the numerous reasons why your nose is so powerful. Frank Bloem says “Smell and language are closely connected, also in the way it presents itself to us. It's very different from vision or colour.” To disguise smell is a way of communicating through an invisible preference where all senses are involved and the beauty of smell is the power scent possesses to take you back to a place, memory or being. Camouflage doesn't have to be only about what the senses see. Interestingly, many other animals also rely on "chemical deception" to keep hunters or prey from following their odour trail to protect themselves. A lot of communication on earth actually occurs by scent, not sight, in the form of discharged chemicals like pheromones. It's just that we human beings, with our overlooking senses, are mostly oblivious to it.
Frank Bloem says “Smell happens in the conscious part of your brain. You are smelling smells constantly. Only you don't realise it or are aware of it.” Humans' relationship to smell is subconscious and our privileged perception of the senses is very different to our counterparts but we share attraction and disgust. And, we all use smell as a disguise in some ways, some more than others. In the new workshop "Smelling like a Being" you will explore scents of other species, be that animals, plants, fungi, minerals, or even bacteria! You will learn about the making of perfumes using the diverse range of scents in our open scent library. By mixing top, middle and base notes, you will compose your own 10 ml perfume to bring home. By the end of the workshop, you will have lots more knowledge on the principles of perfuming, and you will bring home a smell that unlocks precious memories and discussions about the other species around us.
https://www.mcgill.ca/oss/article/history/story-perfume - Joe Schwarcz 20 Mar 2017
https://en.thesnifferoo.com/ - Frank Bloem 2019
https://www.mediamatic.net/en/page/382330/smelling-species - Julia Van Der Veen 17 October 2021