Well Sometimes I Go Out, By Myself, And I Look Across The Water.
And I Think Of All The Things, What You're Doing, And In My Head I Paint A Picture.
(Amy Winehouse, "Valerie")
Project VL got me thinking about love that is not literally, but metaphorically blind. Love that lacks most of the seductive senses - smell, touch, taste and even hearing... Passion that exists in one's mind and its extensions (cellphones, laptops...) and hardly at all has any holdings in reality.
Yes, it's a totally bizarre yet intriguing project. Initially, I was perplexed by the fact that romantic relationships becoming so impersonal. I didn’t even want to do it, and I was even more ambivalent about sharing the process and this very personal story of a client on the blog (despite the fact that I not only had her permission, but was practically begged by her to share the story).
At the same time, I was intrigued by how much people need a sense of closeness, and will seek it at whatever price. And the more I thought about it, and the more I spoke to people my age going through similar experiences hoping to find love or something like it via optimized search engines – the more I realized how relevant the topic is.
Thinking about this project also brought up a lot of interesting thoughts about the role of our senses in interpersonal communication - and the sense of smell is definitely more powerful than most people give it credit... We know it subconsciously, but we are not fully aware of it until it is absent!
Project VL is all about the imagination and sensory compensation. When someone dear is far away, we compensate for their presence with photographs, locks of hair, love letters, and anything sensory that will elicit the feeling of closeness and intimacy with the absent person.
As I was filtering CocoaNymph’s trial batch of the upcoming signature perfume for her brand (hint: it has chocolate, but also many other secret ingredients that I’m not at the liberty to disclose just as yet!), it got me thinking about scented love letters… And so I ended up sealing the scent-soaked filters with some of my Valentine cards.
Letter writing is a dying art. In this day and age, where even emails seem old-fashioned and time consuming, love letters are becoming far and few. In Dr. Zhivago, most of the “love story” is, in fact, virtual – Yuri and Lara see each other in real life far less than they correspond with letters (which were delivered far slower in those days – by post carriages led by horses…). Today’s snail mail is far faster, but still, has the same effect – while it does not deliver the message in real time, it delivers intimate details such as the person’s mood and emotions via their handwriting and choice of stationary, not to mention other tactile qualities of the paper itself, and perhaps things that are added to it – little gifts, and scent – either by default (any personal artifacts take the on the scent of their home or surrounding); or on purpose (when the lovers take the effort to scent their paper).
All those things are painfully lacking in digital, virtual love affairs of modern day, which makes the task of creating the imagined smell of this lady’s lover all the more difficult and challenging… She had very little more information about the person than I did! Can you imagine a person’s smell as you would their face, physical appearance, voice and personality? Where to begin?!