I wrote an article about four years of The Apocalypse Project for Imperica Magazine, an arts and tech publication based in Oxford, UK. Grab a copy online, or check out the full text of my piece, The Apocalypse Project: Investigating Cities and Climate Change through Art and Science, on the project website.
This November I find myself in Seoul for the Bio-Art Seoul 2015 Conference. It’s great to be back here in Korea, which is turning into a yearly homecoming of a sort. Annyunghaseyo!
For my bit in the show, I presented the second volume of The Ephemeral Marvels Perfume Store. There were eight new scents I debuted here. The line was called “A Walk Home” and it was based on the scents of my childhood in the Philippines. These olfactory memories were especially potent when I moved to Manila last year after ten years of being away.
The Ephemeral Marvels Perfume Store: A Walk Home has these eight scents: Recess, A Chinese Apothecary, Time with My Mom, Swimming Lessons, Wild Grass, Manila Sunsets, Carnival, and Moments of Solitude.
During the exhibition, it was fun to see families smell the perfumes. My favorite part was when I saw the little kids trying them on, especially the really small ones who had to tiptoe to reach the bottles. It was so cute when one group of little boys gathered around, each taking a bottle, and sprayed it on himself. (I pity the ones who got the perfumes marked “Recess” and “A Chinese Apothecary”.)
And now, a cathartic release by writing about an embarrassing moment. It was the exhibition opening, and man, I was so excited to do my first Korean ribbon cutting—complete with the white gloves and golden scissors, yo! I was nervous to cut it in advance like I’ve seen people do when what I should have been worried about was not catching the darn things after you snip them.
I’m the sad chick second from left with the pile of ribbons on the floor. Sigh. No one ever tells me these things. Hmph.
For the record, I still think it’s a lot cooler to let everything dramatically fall to the floor. Hello. It’s a grand opening. Just kidding.
Artist Talk: Wet Media Conference
In Sogang University’s Department Art and Technology, artists (including yours truly) gave talks on their work. My talk, entitled “Living SciFi: Bio-Art and our Futures” drew on my journey through science, art, and design, ending with the show at the Institute for the Future and what I’ve learned here so far.
It was also great to meet some bio-artists. Personally, I identify more with the terms “conceptual artist” and “sci-art” since I currently work with so many different fields of sciences and haven’t stuck to just one, so it was great to learn from these guys, especially those whose work I’ve heard so much about. Mad props to Anna Dumitriu, Vicky Isley and Paul Smith of boredomresearch, Sonja Baeumel, Roberta Trentin, etc. It was cool to meet you guys!
Workshop: Making Smells of Perfumes
A week after the opening, I also did a perfumery workshop with some high school and university students in Korea. There was a group of biology students that were accompanied by their teacher. In the beginning, the students participated in my olfactory memory experiment where they were given mystery smells and then were asked to recall the memory that came to mind.
Later, I asked them to do a Smell Walk and gather objects from nature that they want to make a perfume of. We distilled essential oils and also used some from my own collection of essential oils. It was exciting as one distillation flask caught fire (the kids put it out in time and no one was hurt).
I loved that one of the museum staff participated and insisted on making a banana-flavored perfume. He was a fun student. For the record, I insisted that he tuck his tie so it wouldn’t catch fire.
After the distillation, I also got them to create perfumes using the commercial essential oils I have in my personal collection.
I gave them Apocalypse Project Commander badges as a reward for all their hard work. Thanks, guys!
Aaaannnd that’s officially it for me for 2015. No more exhibitions, talks, workshops, interviews, etc. for the rest of the year. I’ll be in Seoul until November 29th reflecting on the year that was and what to do next. You know I’m not a big fan of this part. A bit of Korean hiking should knock me to my senses. Are you in town? Come join me!
Many thanks to Bio-Art Seoul 2015, Biocon, Seoulin Bioscience Co., and Digital Art Weeks International. Thank you especially to Dr. Sunghoon Kim and Helen Kwak!
For the past few months, I have been involved with a project by The Mind Museum, called A Glass of the Sea (AGoS), an exhibition about the Coral Triangle. Scientists from the California Academy of Sciences have been exploring the Verde Island Passage of the CT and have been discovering an abundance of new species. The Verde Island Passage may well be the apex of marine biodiversity on the planet. How amazing!
The AGoS team was led by The Mind Museum curator Maribel Garcia, Bryant Cabantac, Cris Mora, Carlie Dario, Dem Bitantes, Awesome Lab, and myself. The exhibition is made possible by a grant from USAID.
I did the graphic design of the exhibition. I was inspired by kimono fabrics on my visit in Japan, especially their vibrant and classy colors. We applied this to priming tunnels that are shaped like Asian folding fans as well as English and Filipino signage throughout the exhibition.
You haven’t lived until you’ve done graphic designs of bilingual translations about science. For real. Here’s a fun shot of Darwin and I during installation, while we wrestled with industrial strength velcro.
In “A Story of the Science of the Sea”, visitors are invited to take a wooden sculpture etched with a sea creature on top, and place it on an NFC reader to watch it come to life on screen. Audio narration gives more information about the creature. This was designed by Cris Mora.
We also made specially designed video games that each highlight one problem in our oceans. I designed the games while the awesome people at Awesome Labs programmed them.
One game is Garbage Catch, where the user has to prevent garbage from reaching the ocean floor.
Another game is Net Escape, where you prevent unsustainable seafood from swimming into a large net.
The last game is Sustainable Seafood Market, where users are given two seafood options at a time. They must pick the sustainable over the unsustainable seafood. This was the toughest game for me to design, but it’s my favorite among the three. We initially called this Sushi Tinder (which is way catchier). I dedicate this to the chick I met who said she eats shark’s fin soup in weddings because “it’s already there”. RAGE.
After each game, the user can make a pledge to take care of the ocean. The pledges are all different and specific, such as “I pledge not to eat or buy shark’s fin soup from restaurants.”
Your Role in Sea Life highlights your impact on the ocean. Cris Mora made these amazing shadow sculptures out of garbage, showing an impaled turtle (one of the many species that suffer because of what mankind is doing to the oceans), cities which contribute to ocean problems, and the earth in the palm of a hand.
AGoS is made of primarily sustainable materials, such as the bamboo framework that houses the exhibition.
It also features an education space entitled “Ocean in Motion” where visitors can make their own sea creatures, learn about marine protected areas, etc.
We launched this yesterday, July 16, at The Mind Museum. The exhibition will stay there until October and then will get to travel all over the Philippines. Hurray!
Thanks for coming, Mom!
Hello, apocalypters! I’m excited to announce that as a culminating event for The Apocalypse Project: Imagined Futures, The Mind Museum is collaborating with Radio Republic to bring you Future Feast, a celebration of human creativity and our hopes for a sustainable future. The event will be on July 26, Saturday, 12PM to 7PM at the Special Exhibition Hall of The Mind Museum.
With the theme of Redesign, I am working with chefs who are creating new dishes for a Convenience Store of the Future. Radio Republic is bringing in their featured artists for July: Slow Hello, Jireh Calo, and Brisom. There will also be a performance by special guest artist Joey Ayala. This is an event for all ages, so bring in your families and get the kids to play at the Tinker Studio, watch spoken word performances and science shows, dress up in clothes from the Climate Change Closet and have your photos taken at the photo booth, smell the perfumes of The Ephemeral Marvels Perfume Store, participate in Mission Apocalypse Scavenger Hunt and win an Apocalypse Project Commander Badge, and think of how you can help build a sustainable future by making an Earth Pledge.
Ticket prices are as follows:
EXPLORE TICKET (All Day Pass to the galleries of TMM, Access to Live Performances, Mission Apocalypse Scavenger Hunt & Climate Change Closet): 500.00 PHP
TASTE TICKET (Access to Live Performances, Future Tastes (6 dishes), and Climate Change Closet): 300.00 PHP
DISCOVER TICKET (Access to Live Performances and Climate Change Closet): 200.00 PHP
TINKER TICKET (Access to Tinker Studio: Make your own Animal Art): 150.00 PHP
You can buy tickets online here. You can also buy your tickets at the museum on the day of the event. No reservations are required.
See you there!
Highlighting the vanishing breeds enchantment
I am happy to announce The Ephemeral Marvels Perfume Store (T.E.M.P.S., French for time), a hypothetical perfume line set in the future when many things in nature would have disappeared as we know it because of climate change. This is the first collection of eight scents.
The Ephemeral Marvels Perfume Store is a collaboration of The Apocalypse Project and Givaudan. It is part of The Apocalypse Project: Imagined Futures at The Mind Museum and is part of the museum’s permanent collection. Go and visit The Mind Museum to smell these perfumes.
Climate change leads to rising sea levels, threatening to swallow up the world’s coastlines.
Coffee bean production is dependent on cool mountainsides that are running out because of rising temperatures. Pests are also flourishing because of the warmer weather.
Climate change can make flowers open too early before bees emerge from hibernation, causing their numbers to decline.
Climate change is altering growth conditions for grapes, leading to changes in quality of production in wine-producing regions.
Eucalyptus species are increasingly affected by drought and flash floods. Their long regeneration times and short dispersal of their seeds mean they may not be able to keep up with the pace of climate change.
The scorching heat drastically reduces the quality of peanut production, leaving more peanuts to be processed into oil rather than the edible quality.
Higher temperatures are causing the earth’s glaciers and permafrost to melt.
Different species of trees, such as cedar, pine, and fir, are being decimated as climate change increases the risk of forest fires.
To bring the project to life, I reached out to Givaudan, a Swiss flavors and fragrance company, who sources materials that preserve the environment, stimulate the development and well-being of communities, and safeguards an efficient use of previous resources. I am grateful to Marilyn Yao, Givaudan Singapore, and Givaudan Philippines for their help in the perfumes, Maribel Garcia who curated The Apocalypse Project: Imagined Futures exhibition, Stephanie Faith Bautista who designed the logo, and Nino Carandang and Peter Lorenz Frac of Shuttermaster Pro for help with photography and video.
The project was a collaboration between the perfumer who mixed the scents in the lab and myself who created the world the perfumes inhabited. Claude Charmoille, VP of Perfumery in Asia, took on this challenge. Charmoille was born in the south of France where scents abound and vary according to seasons. “After completing my botanic and chemistry education, the subtle alchemy between arts – craft – andscience attracted me to the perfumer’s profession,” says Charmoille.
Personally, my favorite scent is Coasts, because it smells of a place as opposed to the others that smell of a specific objects. Because I smell the beach, I remember my childhood memories in the beaches of the Philippines—white sand, coconut trees, the ocean breeze, salty seashells and all. For Charmoille, it’s Eucalyptus. “This one is my favourite, it brings back memories from my childhood when we visited small islands in the Mediterranean sea close to Cannes. In the hot summer days, the eucalypus and pine trees would perfume the air to a degree one can not forget, this warm aromatic and fruity whiff will always remain deeply linked to seaside vacation and family memories.”
As a designer, my intention was to show people a different side of the climate change scenario. Smell is very sensuous and visceral; its effects are instantaneous. Instead of showing statistics of what will disappear because of climate change, I decided to let people smell them. Highlighting the temporary breeds enchantment. As smell is linked to memory, I’m hoping that people will think about how their lives will be without these seemingly ordinary objects that we take for granted that might not be there anymore.
The Ephemeral Marvels Perfume Store
Concept and Design
Catherine Sarah Young
Claude Charmoille of Givaudan
The Mind Museum
Maria Isabel Garcia
With thanks to
Givaudan Singapore Pte Ltd c/o Claude Charmoille for providing the fragrances
Marilyn Yao and Neri Mamburam
Shot at Shuttermaster Pro