Smell is one of the most primal senses – it recognises the chemical composition of the environment, of what objects in our vicinity physically consist of. Having been pushed to the background by visual culture, it is still associated with the most intimate experiences. It evokes strong and direct associations, although they are often a bit blurred – our language used to describe olfactory sensations is much poorer than that of the visible things.
The Spot is a small, cosy place in which this intimate experience comes to the fore. It is a closed fragment of space, accessible by the internet, which could be called the home of virtual fragrances – an interior that exudes the atmosphere of peace and ritual.
The Spot is called an online experience because it is a digital work that could be potentially used through several digital media. It is available on a website that can be accessed through the browser of a computer or mobile phone; in the future, it will be possible to see it in VR goggles. However, these seemingly diverse media do not affect the meaning of this work.
Experiencing The Spot via the internet problematises the conventionality and illustrativeness of virtual spaces, which are often even called worlds. In this sense, The Spot is an illustration presenting that which is unattainable by means of something that is at hand. It triggers something akin to a reaction to a smell, although it does not use this sense in any way. It is an animation projected onto an object, which makes us believe that it is about olfactory experiences.
Despite the promises, immersion in virtual experiences has not yet surpassed the conventional theatre contract, which requires the viewer to pretend to be convinced by the illusion on stage.
Smell is not a means of interaction in virtual reality yet (notwithstanding the difficulty of conveying it to the user). All we can do is change the position of objects in a simulated space.
The default nose does not react to smell, but to the position of the object, which in this case is the drawing of the incense. If it was replaced with an image of a burning branch, with the character’s hands moving to and away from it, we would have the impression of reacting to “heat.” The Spot illustrates and reveals this problem.
However, does it bother us when contemplating this place? Does it break the impression of being concentrated on one sense, on a mysterious combination of body and peace? Perhaps not. It depends solely on our decision and the extent to which we are prepared to accept the convention.
Multimedia artist working in installation, video, machinima, animation, VR and performances, as well as painting and drawing. Graduate of the Faculty of Painting Department at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts (diploma completed in the studio of Professor Jaroslaw Modzelewski). Co-founder of the szu szu group. He has exhibited (i.a.) at the Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle in Warsaw, BWA Wrocław, Museum of Art in Lodz, BWA Zielona Gora, Wyspa Art Institute in Gdansk, Austrian Cultural Forum in Warsaw, Kunsthaus Dresden, Bat-Yam International Biennale of Landscape Urbanism in Bat-Yam, rotor in Graz, Lokal_30 Gallery in Warsaw. His films have been shown (i.a.) at FILE in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, Planete+ Doc Film Festival, Zacheta National Gallery of Art in Warsaw, at the Muranow Cinema in Warsaw and the TVP Kultura television station. Artist in Residence stipendist (Progr, Berno). Reciepient of the Mloda Polska (Young Poland) scholarship program. He runs the 3D & Virtual Occurrences Studio I at the Faculty of Media Art at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts. Lives and works in Warsaw.