Armillary Sphere  (2011), 8x8x8 inches, aluminum and borosilicate glass

Armillary Sphere (2011), 8x8x8 inches, aluminum and borosilicate glass

The Armillary Sphere is based on 17th-century pre-Copernican navigational devices, but the central terrestrial globe is replaced with a multi-chamber perfume bottle. The geo-centric model is from Plato, who envisioned stars and planets rotating around Earth on “hard crystalline spheres.” As an artwork, the Armillary Sphere reminds us of our misconceptions (scientific and ideological) while framing our terrestrial experience with the olfactory sense. 

Armillary Sphere  (detail)

Armillary Sphere (detail)

The drawings I sandblasted inside the Armillary Sphere’s ecliptic band, seen here in detail, replace Western-centric constellations with chemical formulae for commonly recognized, scented molecules, as in The Chemisphere (2009–2013). These scents reference the uniqueness of human terrestrial embodiment—our olfactory sense being uniquely “of” Earth. Looking at the heavens, these constellations are only visible from the physical location of Earth. The drawings suggest the olfactory/limbic system (the most primitive part of the human brain, which has always guided human decisions and perception) can also be our guide toward understanding space and our place in the Universe.

The final object is highly engineered, with tolerances of 0.001” inch and held together primarily by tension. There are two pins and two inset screws. Works including the patented concentric glass spheres, the Armillary Sphere, and others, have developed along a continuum that marries the technical, conceptual, and aesthetic aspects of scent and specifically prioritize plants in the human experience.

Sundial (Midnight in the Anthropocene)  (2011), 4x4x6 inches, aluminum and borosilicate glass

Sundial (Midnight in the Anthropocene) (2011), 4x4x6 inches, aluminum and borosilicate glass

The Sundial organizes time in a unique way, using perfumes and the olfactory experience to gauge the evolution of the human species on the planet Earth. A translucent multi-chamber perfume bottle representing the core, mantel, ocean and atmosphere of Earth is suspended within the form of a centuries-old sundial. Instead of being a time-keeping device, this Sundial indicates how the geologic evidence of recent human activity, which some call the Anthropocene, is marked by the massive exploitation of petro-chemicals, none other than the basis for all synthetic perfumes. Small marks on the dial arc note the major dates of past epochs, starting with the age of the dinosaurs, our source of energy and the origin of our reptile, olfactory brains, 250 million years ago.

Sundial -detail