Variations/Meditations is the result of two-years experimentation with perfumery, after being primarily a visual artist. Its name comes from two separate works by composers Arnold Schoenberg and John Coltrane, who both challenged conventional methods in their field.

My first, wholehearted attempt simply to make a complete perfume, this project began as a challenge to bring together myrrh, galbanum (an intensely green resin), and cassie (a flower in the Acacia family), three individual scents that I really love.

After much early artistic frustration — perfumery creation is a vision quest of embracing innumerable nerve-jarring failures — I decided to apply rigid constraints to further revisions. This choice arose after many hours listening to Arnold Schoenberg’s Variationen für Orchester, which felt timely because Hitler once declared it as degenerate art.

Taking pause to analyze the aural effects of passages in Variationen, I then derived a method to assemble perfume discords, or intentional failures, and started over. As I approached what felt like a sense of completion, I found myself mesmerized by John Coltrane’s Meditations, particularly as a palliative for political anxieties. From Meditations, I similarly crafted a scheme to combine the discords into a final composition, and made several refinements thereafter to enhance the resulting tone and performance of the perfume.

Perfumery, like any piece of time-based artwork, can be examined as much for its parts as its whole. However, I would not characterize this perfume as wholly discordant; in fact, I think its tune is a particular clang and hum.

In retrospect, Schoenberg and Coltrane seem chance reference for my particular frustration — a struggle to find a route through loud contrasts — since their innovations have been characterized as abject noise to certain ears, yet command attention from others with overall effects. It is the pauses we place within their works that can reveal obtuse gestures, and the enjoyment of other time-based, or time-limited, artwork is no different.

Ultimately, this perfume captures a sense of the vivid, dissonant clashes that have colored my present experiences and heightened the times, a bittersweet period which takes judicious effort to parse.

A very limited quantity of 50ml bottles of Variations/Meditations are available for pre-order.

Variations/Meditations can also be purchased as a part of Studio Series 1.

This perfume was submitted to the Artisan Category of the 2018 Art and Olfaction Awards.