The scent of smoke

Sitting, working, early this morning — there’s smoke wafting in the studio.

It’s too dark outside for there to be any other light — none emerges from the old building, studio windows – an old class room.

The scent of this is old wood — the “fire of wood.” Named: Feu de bois, designed by, envisioned and art-directed by these lovely people.

The scent of smoke
diptyque image source

I can see it, wafting and curling, in the light — as the lights are streaming, their path is clarified in the streaming of burning woods, the compressed dust of flowers, the grindings of dried fruit skins, powdered spices. This scent is wood — and the light, the dissolves the dimness is that of candles — and there’s a low fog in the place.

What I was thinking about is the sentiment, the transformation of space, to place, in the transitioning of scent. Smell changes everything to the degree that whenever I enter any place, I sniff it first — “what’s in here?” Coming back to the schoolhouse — my room there, I can tell if someone else has been there.

Coming into place: You can scent out people. books, papers, inks, perfumes, plants, the character of the floor — like, for example, the scent of old wet wood flooring, trampled by inbound wet-footed travelers. And, too — water on old concrete — the smell comes through, old greens, dirt, oils, petrol, wood shavings. Old greenhouses for example — smelling wet-bricked and deep green smelling.

The scent of smoke

Scent tells it all, about the space, made place.

So I’m watching the smoke of scent — and it takes me back to so many places — one, the incense makers of Bhutan. Story, back here. There, incense making is a relatively toxic affair — wood shavings, their pitch and resins aren’t “safe” for hand-crafted making [wihout protection, that is].

The scent of smoke
Brendan Baker and Daniel Evans

I was thinking back to another impression of smoke — coming into a Swedish farmhouse — not well ventilated, in winter — thank fully. And in that room, the heat, like the warmth of a body — shown through the scents of the room — along with smells of the burning wood. That suggests a link to Byredo — noted earlier, by our blog and our Swedish wanderings, discussions with Ben Gorham. And now — another artist’s interpretation of Byredo incense. Nowness calls “incense visions” shot by Brendan Baker and Daniel Evans’s “still lifes.”

In contemplating any scent — dreams, imagery emerge instantly. Stories fall out of mind. Scent scribes memory — permanently. The more the sniffer can trace and sort the character of perfume make ups — filtering the layers of the archaeology of fragrances. They, each of them, have an investigative, even forensic evocation. Scent, memories, type — they rise and waft in the electrons of perception. And perception is — holding through — to its own etymology.

Per fume, etymologically, as likely the reader knows, is founded on the legacy of “through smoke.” It has been propounded that the most ancient perfumes were soaked particulates, incense or paste-unguents.

Watch the waft — pay attention to what drifts your way. Follow Linda Stone‘s meditations.

Like everything it is evanescent – and perhaps it might not come your way again.


Tim Girvin | founder + principal
mobile direct. 206.890.0621
teams: New York City + Seattle | Tokyo

work: https://www.girvin.com
truth: https://tim.girvin.com/
reels: http://www.youtube.com/user/GIRVIN888