What is shock in perfume? This lecture will dissect the mechanics of shock in philosophy and in practice and then reassemble their meaning and relevance for perfumery. Through an extended comparison with cinema, we will question how and why shock tactics work before speculating if their implementation could usher new frontiers for perfumery.
Perfume is a time art in the same way that film and music are time arts. In order to qualify as perfume or film or music, each must engage its medium with transitions, displacements, and modifications that indicate a debt with time. Without time’s passing, perfume would have no means to realise itself, leaving two options: either existing as unrealised potential on the skin (or bottle, or blotter) that never reaches the nose, or pervading as an omnipresent flat sensation that never changes. Transience, development, and diffusion are absolutely fundamental to the olfactory experience. Whilst perfume has to testify to time, what kind of time and how it does so is the subject of this discourse.