Friday, March 6, 2020

Sensibilia: Explorations in Arabic Poetry


April is Arab-American Heritage Month and National Poetry Month. Sensibilia is inspired by their confluence.





















Ideas germinate in the furrows of imagination as the reader’s eyes encounter words in a poem. What if the smells, tastes, textures and sounds that infused the text came to life, and could be experienced as tangibly as text perceived by the human eye?

Paradigms will shift in the reader’s sensorium at Sensibilia, where multimodal experiences accompany real-time encounters with scents, tastes, textures and sounds referenced in Arabic poetry. Interactions with fragrance, food, music, and the warp and weft of textiles will transport your senses—and your sense of what is possible in a poetry experience.

Dr. Wessam Elmeligi (Assistant Professor, U-M Dearborn) and Michelle Krell Kydd (Smell & Tell / Taste & Tell at AADL) will co-present with contributions by: Hadil Ghoneim (author),  Rima Hassouneh (U-M Community Outreach Coordinator, CMENAS and CSEAS) and Dr. Yasmin Moll (U-M Assistant Professor, Anthropology). Readings will be conducted in English and Arabic.

Tastes of Middle Eastern pastry from Farhat Sweets in Sterling Heights, Michigan are included in this multisensory program.

Sensibilia is collaboration between the Center for Middle Eastern & North African Studies (CMENAS) at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor; the Department of Language, Culture and Communication (LCC) at University of Michigan-Dearborn; and the Arab American Advisory Group for Ann Arbor Public Schools (AAPS).

Sensibilia: Explorations in Arabic Poetry
Date: Tuesday, April 21, 2020
[This event has been postponed as of 3/23 and will be rescheduled]
Time: 6:30-8:45PM
Location: The Ann Arbor District Library (Downtown Branch)
Address: 343 South Fifth Avenue, Ann Arbor, MI 48103
Phone: 734-327-4200
Admission is free and is sponsored by AADL
Link to Event: https://aadl.org/node/401237

Saturday, February 29, 2020

A Leap of Faith on Leap Day: How to Evaluate Smells












The temple bell stops,

but the sound keeps coming
 
out of the flowers.
—Matsuo Bashō (1644—94)

For the past 29 days interesting patterns have appeared in double digit annotations for each day. Something new appears between 02 and 20 and today it ends with 022920, which also happens to be the hex code for a very dark cyan at 0.8% red, 16.1% green and 12.5% blue. Humans gravitate towards harmony and meaning, but in doing so may lose sight of the value of being present. This is especially true when it comes to learning how to evaluate smells.

The formula for getting better at evaluating smells is simple and counterintuitive. Smell beyond what’s there and what you think you can smell. This approach is true for every sense, but it’s especially true for smell because the human experience of smelling is hardwired to emotion and memory. Attachment to likes, dislikes, and ephemerality independent of vision inhibit the embodied experience of smelling. It’s really that simple. You need to get out of your own way.

Think of smell as a haiku that dissolves after you’ve read it. If you trust the experience, a distillation of meaning beyond words will take up residence within you. If you grasp at each word in an attempt to fix the experience in time you’ll lose the haiku's essence. This is not often articulated, but it’s the lived experience of people who follow their nose in life and for a living. Listen. Can you hear the sound coming out of the flowers?

Notes:
You can see the dark cyan color in lower right side of the temple bell image.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Smell & Tell: Tincturing Memory (Olfactory Volume II)













Tincturing is a process used by healers and perfumers to extract plant essences. It’s also a butterfly net for capturing and preserving memories. This is not the stuff of dreams. Memories define the past, infuse the present and shape our future—and many of them can be bottled.

Imagine having access to olfactory vignettes imbued with themes from your unique life story. Liquid memories that can be summoned and revisited at will. Sounds like magic, but it’s pure science and know-how.

Experience tinctured materials inspired by people, places and plants that will inspire you to reflect on olfactory elements that shape memory and storytelling. Smell & Tell attendees will learn how to tincture their own memories so they can share them with friends and loved ones. Memory Kits will be provided to all attendees.

The scent flight for this program includes the following crafted essences: Baasiminaanan, L’épice du Roi Indien, Daylight Moonshine, Galium Odoratum, Autumn in Chartreuse, Rachel’s Glamour, Father’s Hug and Smokeless Kemuri (煙)
 *Ojibwe for “berries”. Pronunciation here.  

The Smell and Tell series of art+science programming is led by Michelle Krell Kydd, a trained nose in flavors and fragrance who shares her passion for gastronomy and the perfume arts on Glass Petal Smoke. Smell & Tell builds community through interactions with flavor, fragrance and storytelling. The unique and popular series celebrates its eighth anniversary year at the Ann Arbor District Library in June and is ongoing.

Smell &Tell: Tincturing Memory (Olfactory Volume II) 
Date: Wednesday, March 18, 2020
[This event is postponed as of 3/11/20. It will be rescheduled]
Time: 6:30-8:45PM
Location: The Ann Arbor District Library, Downtown Branch
Address: 343 South Fifth Avenue, Ann Arbor, MI 48103
Phone: 734-327-4200
Admission is free and is sponsored by AADL
Link to Event: https://aadl.org/node/398025

Notes:
The first installment of Smell & Tell: Tincturing Memory took place in 2018. Volume II introduces a new set of olfactory vignettes for smelling. I designed the Memory Kits for the Smell & Tell program. The kits allow attendees to build on their learning experience and are distributed free of charge to attendees thanks to the generosity of the Ann Arbor District Library. Memory Kits will be distributed to participants at the end of the program.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Smell and Tell: Brian Eno Smells

















A journalist was interviewing musician/producer Brian Eno in candlelit room when the artist opened a faded lime-colored metal briefcase filled with “an array of phials” containing raw materials used in perfumery. The year was 1982 and the article was titled “An Evening with Brian Eno”. This was the first interview where the subject of scent became the main topic of discussion—it wasn’t the last.

Brian Eno is a full-on smellaholic who continues to collect raw ingredients used in perfumery for private enjoyment and inspiration. What is it about the art of perfumery that continues to fascinate the renowned founder of ambient music? How does Eno’s passion for smells shape his creative output? (Hint: if you download his Bloom app on iTunes you’ll find a breadcrumb trail of synesthetic clues).

What are Brian Eno’s favorite smells and why do they have the impact that they do? Recode your concept of creativity. Get inside Brian Eno’s olfactory mind and find out what happens when normal instruments are abandoned and disconnected events are smelled in circuit.

The Smell and Tell series of art+science programming is led by Michelle Krell Kydd, a trained nose in flavors and fragrance who shares her passion for gastronomy and the perfume arts on Glass Petal Smoke. Smell & Tell builds community through interactions with flavor, fragrance and storytelling. The unique and popular series celebrates its eighth anniversary year in June at the Ann Arbor District Library and is ongoing.

Smell & Tell: Brian Eno Smells
Date: Wednesday, February 19, 2020
Time: 6:30-8:45PM
Location: The Ann Arbor District Library, Pittsfield Branch
Address: 2359 Oak Valley Drive, Ann Arbor, MI 48103
Phone: 734-327-4200
Admission is free and is sponsored by AADL
Link to Event: https://aadl.org/node/398023

Notes:
Recommended reading for insight into a collaboration between Brian Eno and Maurice Roucel that's curious and mysterious: Brian Eno, Maurice Roucel and the Perfume of Unfinished Business.

Brian Eno Smells debuted at the Ann Arbor District Library in 2018. Attendees and new fans of Smell & Tell at the library wanted an encore. Et voila. There's a new smell added to the scent flight; a perfume that a woman Eno encountered declared as aphrodisiac. Eno associates it with biblical Nard (Spikenard), but it's something completely different. You'll have to attend the program to smell Nardo and find out what it really is (I have it and production is officially discontinued).

Lesson? Don't rely on aphrodisiac lore when you get a sample of of Nardo perfume from a woman in Ibiza: "...a woman I met in Ibiza gave me a minute bottle containing just one drop of an utterly heavenly material called Nardo (I later came to think that this was probably spikenard oil, extracted from a shrub growing at between six and eight thousand feet on the Himalayas and used by wealthy Indian ladies as a prelude to lovemaking)." Tsk-tsk, Brian.