A Biochemical and Biopoetic Odour Communication Experiment The project One Tree ID transforms the ID of a specific tree into a perfume that can then be applied to the human body. By applying it, a person can invisibly wear not just characteristics of the tree he/she is standing next to, but also use parts of its communication system and potentially have a conversation that—although invisible and inaudible by nature—might still take place on the biochemical level plants use for information exchange.
VOCs– Trees– Communication All Plants emit Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). These are gases and molecules that contribute to cloud formation. It is also what we recognize as the fragrance of a forest. Plants communicate with the help of VOCs. Furthermore, these emissions are very specific for each individual plant; so each tree generates its own cloud. With the help of chamber measurements we can detect these molecule clouds and most of its components.
A Tree Specific Perfume – Producing the ONE TREE ID For its first realization we selected a Himalayan Cedar. The roots and its bacteria, the tree stem and needles emit different VOCs. So we measured the cloud of the roots, the cloud of the tree stem, and the cloud of the needles separately. It was possible to define more than 100 different compounds. Despite tremendous advancements in technology, it is not possible to determine the VOCs 100 per cent, as they are so small and short-lived. It could be that the 1 per cent we cannot measure is the part that gives the cloud its fragrance. The human nose and its 10 million receptors is still the only tool that can detect certain aspects of it. Therefore, we also invited a perfumer to smell the tree. The collected machine data and nose data were fused to create the perfumes “Cloud of the Roots,” “Cloud of the Tree Stem,” and “Cloud of the Tree Crown,” which then—in a final step—lead to the synthesis of the One Tree ID perfume.
Agnes Meyer-Brandis (DE) lives and works in Berlin. She comes from a background of both sculpture and new media art. Her work, exhibited worldwide and awarded, explores the zone between fact and fiction—artistic research on the quest for a degree of reality within constructions. Selected Exhibitions: Hors Pistes, Centre Pompidou, Paris, FR, 2019 / Strata-Rock-Dust-Stars, York Art Gallery, UK, 2018 / Cloud Cores, Moon Geese and Wandering Trees, House of Electronic Arts HeK, Basel, CH, 2017 / No Such Thing as Gravity, National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, 2017 / Setting Out, apexart, New York City, 2016 / COSMOS, Daejeon Museum of Art, KOR, 2016 / Globale / Exo-Evolution ZKM, Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe, 2015 / Republic of the Moon, Oxo Tower London, 2014 / Hamburger Bahnhof, Museum for Contemporary Art, Berlin, 2014.
In collaboration with Prof. Dr. Birgit Piechulla and Dr. Uta Effmert, Biochemistry, Institute for BioSciences, University Rostock and Marc vom Ende, Senior Perfumer, Symrise.
With kind support by the Stiftung Kunstfonds, Symrise AG and Universität Rostock.