Smelling Gold – Mixed Media: film, objects, smells. Gavin Rogers, Gold Rush Project, 2014
We spend our days surrounded my smells, from the smell of ground coffee in the morning to the perfumes we spray on ourselves as we get ready for a night out on the tiles. But have you ever started smelling beyond your daily activities? To actively seek smells: sniff a leaf, a wall, a shoe, a book, a rusty nail… go on, give it a good sniff! Smells are everywhere. Smells can evoke memory, excitement, disgust, possible even fear. Our bodies emit smells, good and bad, from our ears to our toes.
“The act of smelling something, anything, is remarkably like the act of thinking. Immediately at the moment of perception, you can feel the mind going to work, sending the odour around from place to place, setting off complex repertories through the brain, polling one centre after another for signs of recognition, for old memories and old connection”
I spent a week collecting smells from people in and around the outdoor parks of Melbourne. I simply asked the participants to donate a smell. I would give them a swab, let them capture the smell, contain it within a sealed bag, and then record information about the smell and the person who donated it.
For this artwork I selected 20 smells at random from those that I collected and have used them to recreate a combined smell. This has involved me collecting my own sweat, donating precious beer, sun cream, perfume, dog hairs, ear wax, banana peel and many more. This concoction of smells have then been captured and fermented into a liquid, which I have titled “Melbourne Gold”.
“The sense of smell can be extraordinarily evocative, bringing back pictures as sharp as photographs of scenes that had left the conscious mind.”