Science and Art / 12.09.2022

Exhibition of Agnes Meyer-Brandis: ‘Tree ID’

The biopoetic and biochemical installation ‘Tree ID - how to become a tree for another tree’ is a multi-year project in which Agnes Meyer-Brandis explores the possibilities of communication between humans and trees through smell. By capturing a tree’s volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and synthesizing them into a perfume, the author of the exhibition enables visitors to apply the scented liquid to their body and thereby speculatively enter into non-verbal communication with the plant. A forest’s aroma derives from the volatile compounds in the soil and individual trees. Trees and other plants use these scents to transmit information on which they are interdependent. Each tree has its unique VOC imprint – its own olfactory identity, with the help of which we can distinguish the plants from each other.

For the exhibition in the Kapelica Gallery, the author chose the katsura tree (Cercidiphyllum japonicum), commonly referred to as the caramel tree. With the help of scientists from the Jožef Stefan Institute (Dr Lidija Strojnik and Prof Nives Ogrinc), in June 2022, she measured the ethereal cloud of volatile molecules of roots, trunks and leaves using Solid-phase microextraction–gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (SPME/GC-MS). The author and her colleagues combined the collected mechanical and sensory data into the three aromas: Cloud of Roots’, ‘Cloud of Tree Stems’ and ‘Cloud of Treetops’, which led to the synthesis of the fragrance ‘Identity of One Tree’.

In the Kapelica Gallery, in addition to the caramel tree and examples of its fragrance, it will also be possible to experience the aromas of trees from other parts of Europe, collected by Agnes Meyer‑Brandis.

The exhibition will be opened September 7-30, 2022.