MOTHER’S DAY IS IN MAY

 

 

Please, don’t tell my mom

that I was just hit by a car.

Nothing serious, just a couple of scars.

I guess I was lucky, or smart enough,

to remember how to keep my body, mind and soul safe.

I learned from the best,

Watching action movies with the rest.

 

Please, don’t tell my mom that I just recovered from a heavy sunburn,

That my skin hurts and was red and bubbly like hell’s ocean for two weeks,

And that I was scared – that here we are – Skin and Cancer and the Death.

 

Please, don’t tell my mom that I had nothing to eat for two weeks,

Because I couldn’t expect that The Big City life would be full of cheats.

 

Please, don’t tell my mom that I refuse to go on the dates,

Though they are nice dates, without real soul mates.

 

Please, don’t tell my mom that I’m still suffering from my last heartbreak,

That I don’t trust the People , that I always think twice,

And that everyday shit is just too “nice”.

 

Please, don’t tell my mom that after moving back from the States,

I still do cry sometimes. But it’s not bad and it’s not sad, it’s purifying,

The Salt and the Water, it’s needed for Life.

 

But, please, tell my mom that I love her and that it was all worth it.

 

Mother’s day is in May,

And I just gave birth to my first child,

We call him Ray.

 

Like a ray of sunshine, like the way you used to say mom,

That I’m your only Ray of Sunshine.

 

Mother’s day is in May,

And I’m happy to say,

That everything is now okay.

 

And mom,

I will always love you,

Home and Away.

A MAN ATLANTIC OCEAN AWAY

 

A man Atlantic ocean away came here to Europe to see me.

He might be unique, but he’s not the only one. We might have the chemistry, but it’s not for the first and not the last time…

Plenty fish in the sea, they say.

She watches them swim, come and go, she stares at them, compares them, wins and loses them, contemplates them. She sees them as strangers, she sees them as brothers, as fathers, as husbands, as lovers… She sees them. There they are, swimming, the opposite sex, the menfish.

 

And here he sits in a cafe across me. My cup is empty, but I drink on anyway, to avoid staring him into the eyes, as he avoid looking me into the eyes last time. This time, his eyes expect something in return. I wanted to tell him that it’s not the right time, that everything is alright and that something might happen, but right now is not the right time. That’s what I wanted to tell him. But of course, I said nothing. I could only hope that he’ll be smart enough to understand it all later. I hoped he would be smart and patient enough.

This isn’t a professional meeting, although it looked like ti. It’s Sunday afternoon and passion made him woke up early and come to this cafe. Passion and curiosity made him cross the Atlantic.

“Jade, I love you,” he suddenly said it out loud.

But love is when you say nothing! What could you say? What matters? Nothing. I love you too, but… Now is not the right time. Two of us, we are everything. I love you too. Love you so much that I can’t sleep, I can’t eat, I enjoy nothing. I can’t concentrate, I can’t invest into the new. I just keep on thinking of you and knowing that you’re far away. But now you’re here, and you’re telling me that you too, love me. And you have this desire, this burning desire in your eyes. You use all the other tools to express your desire, because speaking eliminates desire, makes it banal, makes it too obvious, unnatural. I wish you would stop speaking, but this time you don’t, you keep on explaining me now why you came, why you waited, what happened in-between and what is happening now, and how I should move back to States, how we should get married, and I should get the visa and move in with you. How we should later buy a summerhouse in Santa Cruz and start surfing, together. Surfing on those waves of life. Together.

 

But I knew that my life would go on writing itself without any help of me or you. Life happened because I was always free, my state of mind has always been free, I dictated the beat and set up the rhythm while the play button was pushed down for this one. The sound of my life played on. And now you… I love you. I love you too. But you want to change my rhythm, and it’s not the right time. You want to be the beat maker of my life. What to do… Moving across Atlantic is romantic, but… I don’t know, I can’t make up my mind. To make a statement or a declaration, one has to find a word, a label. My label has been so far a passenger, a temporary passenger, a nomad writing her book of life on her own.

 

And in the public…

Sitting here in this café in the public. There was something obscene and embarrassing about appearing in public when still in the first phase of desire and being in love, admitting that we’re both in love. The waiter, the coffee, the menu, the café, the city. This all seemed too much. Once you told me, that you want to go the abandoned beach and just be there, together, and no one else, just us, and I will be yours. It’s a private ownership, isn’t it? The world shouldn’t know that he’s mine and I’m his! And it goes all wrong when you start enjoying the public too much. And he… apparently he’s a property of public, even here, across the Atlantic he manages to see people who know him. Even during our coffee hour, there are men passing by and saying hi. Nodding behind my back for an approval – “That’s a good one, Brian. Good catch!”

Love isn’t a social game. It can’t be shared with friends, put into words… It can only be felt in between the two. In silence. With no disruption, disturbance, and it should feel endless. An endless well-kept secret in between the two. You is me, and me is you, yet we’re different and unique on our own. He is the other in whom I can recognize myself… I first became interested in him when I saw his work. He was talented, honest and hard-working. We clicked straightaway. Made some projects together. And I never laughed so much in my life as I did with him. This whole existence was a movie, and the time we spent together still seems unreal. But it is real and in the now.

 

The point of desire is that you have to cross to reach to other shore. As he did. He desired me. He crossed the Atlantic Ocean. He admitted that he loved me. He wanted to marry me. And I… I couldn’t give up my freedom right now. I loved him, but I couldn’t give away my heart. My heart that I finally managed to heal and kept on protecting now. They also say that you shouldn’t give away your full heart. Never jump into the sea without taking a deep breath of air. This sea was too big for me, and I couldn’t make this jump with him. There will always be a chance to forget later.

But I never forgot him…

I LIKE TRAINS

I like trains more than planes or busses.

I like to observe the people sitting in front of you. I like people with whom you’re not too close, whom you can look straight into the eyes, whose sight you can steal, from whose sight you can’t hide away. I like people who can’t fall asleep by accident on your shoulder, like they do on the bus. I like people who don’t ask you where are you coming from and where are you flying – business or visiting?

No, I’m moving.

I’m moving away and I’m not visiting, neither doing any business. Yet.

I LIKE TRAINS WHEN IT RAINS

Heavy water drops are crushing against the windows. It’s cold and wet outside, and you’re warm and cozy inside. You’re just passing by. Passing by this weather, this stage of nature, and mind.

At this stage of life you’re safe.

I like trains because they feel safe. There’s no race, there’s no rush. And in case of an accident, emergency or conquest you can always run into the woods.

I don’t swim well, boats are cool and sailing is awesome, but I don’t swim well, so it’s unsafe. And planes, who is saint and safe up there anyway? I don’t know how to fly and I don’t swim.

But I can crawl and I can run, so trains are safe for me.

I LIKE THE SOUND OF A TRAIN

I like trains because they’re quiet and strong. There’s a sophistication and the sense of history in the sound of a train. The sound of a train is the sound of an honest and hard-working man. He passes the tunnels, jumps over the lakes, runs the pine forests and walks in the lavender fields. The sound of the train is calm but strong, and certainly promising. Breath-taking green sights, which you can touch with your eyes, clear lakes, small villages, even the graffiti-painted suburbs… they’re all promising, promised lands.

So I pack my bags and buy my one-way ticket. And off I go, towards the promised land.

Steve Reich – Different Trains (Part 1)

A dedication to my dear grandfather Nikolai, who served the rails over 50 years, who taught me the greatness of simplicity, unlimited kindness and the beauty of each moment in life. To my grandfather, who never stopped loving my outspoken sarcasm and goofy dance moves while growing up.

IMAGINE THE SMELL

 

READING AND PERCEIVING – IMAGINE THE SMELL
The Aesthetics of a Sense that should make more Sense

 

Information, tons of information, information overload. We’ve all seen that, we’ve all heard that. The information we are overloaded by is mostly of audio-visual origin. But what about the messages recorded through touch, smell and taste? Today’s society considers touch, smell and taste more as subjective and private senses, opposed to the objective and public senses of vision and sound.

 

The Art of Touching, Smelling and Tasting

There are some difficulties in formulating aesthetics of touch, smell and taste. Today’s culture lacks of tactile art, so to say ‘touch museums’. There’s one in Ancona, Italy, but it is a rare exception. One of the reasons why touch or smell are seemingly unrecognized by art might be because their supremacy makes them impossible to escape – it’s the instant message, instant meaning. We can shut our eyes and cover our ears, but we can’t avoid touch and smell, they’re inescapable. Touch is too important information carrier to be distilled or elaborated. Other senses are rather obscure, making it possible to re-interpret their messages in many different ways and create artistic alterations. We long for what we see, we feel what we hear and smell, and what we touch we are. Albert Einstein once said: “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” Before the culture of language was created we somehow understood each other naturally. Simply by smelling and touching, didn’t we? Communicating only the relevant information needed for life and survival.

 

A Piece of Marketing

Sensory marketing guru, Simon Harrop provides us with the right communication pattern to consider and apply by giving a step-by-step example of a romantic encounter:

SIGHT: you see her, you’re triggered and she got your attention;

SOUND: you call her: “How you doin’?” and you ask her out. You go out, surrounded by jazz music at the bar and you ask her for a dance;

TOUCH: the beginning is just about holding hands, but as rhythms slow down you’re able to pull her closer and;

SMELL: her perfume, her hair, the information you receive gets more intimate. You can smell that she had a cigarette before meeting you, because there’s a small scent-hint in her hair, and that she tried to hide it with a playful scent of tuberose. And then the last, the most private;

TASTE: you kiss. And the rest is history (in the making).

 

It’s in the Air and in his Shoes: Smelling and Trend Detecting

Intimacy is part of citizenship, as it is a manifest in many contemporary artworks, especially in net.art. Hence, taste and smell imply another conception of social links, one that deconstructs the dualistic frontier between public and private. Besides the fact, that Taste and Smell are married, where the first cannot live without the second, saying that much of the taste of food depends on its smell.

Here, have you ever thought about the word “sagacious”?

To be sagacious means to be “of keen and farsighted penetration of judgment, indicating acute discernment”. Etymologically sagacity means “to have a good nose”, like a dog. Hence the general acceptation of sagacity would be “a gift for nosing, finding things out”.

Sagacity is the art of smelling.

To have “a good nose” for something helps to perceive the radically new, but also to guess the unknown, to scent out unprecedented outcomes. The faculty of foresight is one of the meanings of sagacity. And even today, with all the trends being mixed and the lines blurred, we need a good nose to detect the origin and possible impact on the future. To detect the “why” by stepping into another’s shoes. Another reference towards tactility is the saying “to know how it feels like you have to be in his shoes.” Immanuel Kant stated that the “enlargement of the mind” is accomplished by putting ourselves in the place of any other man. Meaning that critical thinking, considered still a solitary deal, does not cut itself off from “all others”. Of course, the process initially still takes place in isolation, but by the force of imagination it makes others present and thus moves in a space that is potentially public, open to all sides, it adopts the position of Kant’s world citizen. Hannah Arendt noted that to think with an enlarged mentality means to train one’s imagination to go visiting. To travel in the mind, and in real life, for people watching and examining, and eventually why not for possible trend-spotting.

 

Go to Paris, Feel the Joy

In Ancient Egypt, Hathor was the Goddess of Joy and Perfumes. Hatshepsut’s tremendous expedition to the Land of Punt in order to bring back perfumes to Egypt showed the crucial role of perfumes in this civilization, which was “perfume-dependant” not only for aesthetic virtues but for sacred purposes, and political equilibriums as well. Hathor was the Mistress of the Laboratory of Edfou in which the metamorphic power of perfumes was effective in their ability of giving life both to the dead and to the statues of gods.
 Imagine a scene: “Now this,” she says, as she lights a small torch and blasts the incense so that it begins to produce a commanding trail of smoke, “This is perfume.” And the room was filled with joy.

The most costly perfume in the world today would be “Joy” by Jean Patou, and that being said not from a market price point of view, but from an ingredients point of view. The most precious jasmines and roses are gathered here to celebrate the scent of duality, a dance in between these two royal flowers. It is an artwork worth smelling and re-smelling.

 
Speaking of the Joy of Art in the Everyday

It has often been argued that touch, smell and taste cannot produce art because they deal with ephemeral stimuli and consume their objects. Still, even if one could prove the existence of art forms based on the haptic sense, olfaction and taste, it is claimed to be difficult. It is almost impossible to elaborate a discourse on them in the form of a critique and an aesthetic theory because of the poor and vague terminology used to describe the experiences and qualities. We lack of verbs depends on borrowings. Also, the ethnology-linguistic research on the language of the senses is only in its infancy. It is sporadic, yet promising.

The aesthetics of the senses requires a meta-aesthetics, a reflection on its own language. Scents are usually considered to be kind of dangerous and used for sensual purposes. Psychological research has proven that artificial fragrances can only seldom be identified without any support of visual or verbal stimuli.

Nonetheless, one should be cautious against any superficial optimism in the attempt to rehabilitate the secondary senses in aesthetics. The question of the existence of haptic, olfactive and gustatory representations has still not found an answer in the scientific community, and it might even be too early to answer that without adequate support from epistemology and cognitive science. As an example, let’s look at violets. Violets contain ionone, which short-circuits our sense of smell. The flower continues to exude its fragrance, but we lose the ability to smell it. Wait a minute or two, and its smell will blare again. Then it will fade again, and so on. From the history we know that the violet besotted so the ancient Athenians that they chose it as their city’s official flower and symbol. Victorian women liked to sweeten their breath with cachous violet drops, especially if they’d been drinking. And no written scientific explanations are to be found about the violets so far.

Last but not least, the evidence that our age has developed exclusively around visual and acoustic media enhances the repression and impoverishment of the experience of smell, taste, and the haptic sense – these senses are aroused only indirectly by media. That’s why many artists are moving towards the Taste and Smell. Not only artists but the aesthetics of everyday life suggest a hunger for secondary senses, which may be attributed to the need for intimacy, affection and having a holistic experience of the body. Cooking has widely been transformed from drugery into a fashionable hobby for cuisiniers de dimanche. Aromatherapy and body workshops are flourishing on the threshold between science, esoteric beliefs and aesthetic hedonism. Creative industries experiment with new materials that strongly address touch (in the IT, automobile industry, furniture design etc.). The marketing advantage of haptic and olfactory design of household goods has been used successfully for years. As a result, the meaning of design has been extended to other senses, and expressions such as “sound design” have become en vogue. Yet the mention of “smell design” is rather scarce, even after Citroën C4 won a prize a few years ago for its parfumeur d’ambiance, and again, “food design” still generally refers to the visual display of the edible. Finally, the relaxation industry (spas, wellness-centres etc) is also based on the practices that engage all senses. In the realm of olfaction, one of the main difficulties in justifying an olfactory aesthetics consists mainly in the lack of specific education and sensibility.

 

To end, to proceed and to light the discussion I’d like to say here:
Don’t fail to recognize and sense.

 

Written by Julia Ahtijainen
Published in LE MILE magazine

 

 

 

 

 

 

MANTEAU DE FLÂNEUR

 

Although Paris was an old city and I loved it more from a far away, I loved the idea of Paris more than Paris itself. There was still a lot to observe and take in… So, after my vacation in the homeland forests I had to come back.

 

Paris had slowly become a part of my global familia. Paris was like an old uncle to me now. An uncle who knew everything and everybody noble, yet spoke to a few and almost never smiled or laughed when sober. I had to return to my uncle to learn more about how to speak unfrankly politely, how to cope with solitude, dress in style, roll your eyes, eat and drink with world’s highest class, and how to protest and argue with class. Reading Hemingway’s “The Movable Feast” helped for some time while living in my opinionated uncle’s world.

Paris was testing my sense of discipline and nerves. And all after all I reminded myself that I came here because of perfumery and everything scented and unscented, yet. Although the perfumery field was also blooming on the other side of the ocean in New York City, and there were things to do in London and Amsterdam too, I stayed here. And Paris remained the heart of perfumery, and I wanted to stay near the heart. To feel its rhythm, its heartbeat, its control over blood circulation, scented blood circulation around the global body of perfume industry.

Even if the country wasn’t the same anymore, even it the protests and attacks had become even more common, still unexpected, even if the people remained closed and snobbish. I still wanted to stay near the heart, this vulnerable but strong heart. ‘To listen to your Heart or your Brain?’ the question that is haunting the mankind… I stayed in the Paris city for more, because my brain and cold logic told me so, although my heart… My heart craved for the sea and the forest, and my good and smiling people!

And I hoped, I really hoped that this time, after moving from super-touristy area near Notre Dame, I will find my peace, and I may feel more at home in this city. I hoped that discipline and my strictly calculated plan of the growth of my life plant will bring better fruits on the table for the next seasons. I breathed in and collected all the fear inside me, and I breathed out, I let it go, I let it all go, and stepped bravely onto the plane. Paris, dear uncle Paris, stop being a hustler and a cultured bastard, let’s collaborate… Life is easy for nobody these days.

 

It was end of August when I came back to Paris, wearing my all-time favourite trench coat. And I stopped and looked at myself. I looked okay, although I gained a lot of weight, I still looked fine. And I still loved watching, inspecting my surroundings, exploring, and discovering new scenes. I still had it…

 

Every time she moves to a big city she puts her flâneur coat on. This coat transforms well her character, besides the fact that a classic trench coat has been always in style. But what is it all about – her flâneurism?

A flâneur is a passionate wanderer, a stroller, a culture detective by nature, a people watcher. She removes herself from the city life while standing astride its heart and playing with the ideas of modern urbanism. She is thrilled by the French literature, but she never had a patience to learn the language to read the originals. Even though she can handle the Parisian laptop-free café society and mandatory consumption of wine during each lunchtime, she still fights against it. She fights against the modern horror of the thought of doing absolutely nothing.

Traditionally a trench coat was a garment made out of waterproof heavy-duty cotton gabardine drill, poplin or leather. It’s double-breasted with wide lapels, a storm flap and pockets that button-close. The coat is belted and the color is black, to blend in with other nomads. It is her personal windbreaker, that keeps all the bullshit drops away, it’s her cover, her protection, her protest.

Her flâneur coat is a protest, protest against the mass, the Spotify sounds, Instagram sights, Facebook statuses, WhatsApps and Snapchat reports. All so accessible yet set at unreachable distance, discomfort and unreal. Online technology is good depending on how you use it. How you use it, not how it uses you.

The idea of her flâneurism here was to dissociate from online surroundings, it’s about taking a step back. This step was important to her. A step into the woods, back to the roots. This step encouraged her to pursue the full swag of flânerie – wearing basics, walking more, wearing running shoes on a daily basis, laughing more, buying fresh food at the market, mixing the secondhand store fashions with high fashions, paying more attention to her surroundings and to the people, and creating. Creating an antidote to artificial busyness of a big city and its stress, creating something real and valuable.

 

To create is to show. Flashers and streakers wear trench coats since they conceal the wearer’s lack of undergarments and can be opened quickly when there’s an intention to show. So, she keeps on walking, people watching, recording and creating. And wearing her manteau de flâneur. She is preparing for an exhibition. An exhibition of a human breaking the system. School is also a system. Many public schools in the States forbade students from wearing trench coats, on the grounds that they could be used to conceal weapons. “But that would be least concern, if Trump will become a president,” she thought.

She could go on a war in this coat, on a war with third world.

So, beware of her gun, son.

Son Of A Gun.

WHEN IN PARIS

EACH TIME MY HEART IS BROKEN IT MAKES ME FEEL MORE ADVENTUROUS.

My eyes are muted grey today. They used to be shiny light blue like the clear blue summer sky. But they change all the time now, depending on the environment I’m in. They are indiscriminate. They’re still specific but already disloyal, so it is hard to trust…

It is hard to trust him although he seems to be like a nice and honest guy. He reads Seneca, plays piano and is full of power and energy. He’s like a Roman soldier, able to pull me up and carry wherever he wants to. Maybe even to drop me into the Seine river if I’ll misbehave during this date. He’s not your usual skinny Parisian guy. He’s the conqueror, and I like him. As we sit here on Pont Neuf and drink wine from Chablis, he suddenly asks me whether I did some MDMA, in reference to my once again dilated pupils. And there’s no shame, nor any excitement, it’s just a casual question. Just as casual as it would be popping some ecstasy pills on a Friday night before dating someone for the first time. Honey, did you know that there are other factors that can cause pupil dilation besides drugs, physical or psychological pleasure for example? Maybe you’re simply turning me on? This all has been discovered and proved back in the 1970’s. Niles Bernick’s studies showed that both men and women get dilated pupils when they are sexually aroused. Research lead by G. K. Poock showed that when our minds are loaded to 125% of their capacity, the pupils get constricted. This wine is not working, my brain is still working and I’m still super-conscious about the situation we’re in. It’s not an extase, I’m just interested in what you’re saying. You are interesting to me, but… Whether or not the eyes are windows to the soul, the pupils are certainly windows to the mind. And my mind doesn’t let me trust you.

I just don’t trust anyone anymore.

Although I tried, I tried to trust and love so many times, so many guys. I tried not to mix the love and the career, then I tried to build them together. It didn’t work out, and once again my ambitions saved me. So, I moved, so I’m here now, in Paris.

I lighted up my cigar, and meditated in an unhealthy way. I felt relaxed because this bullshit on another continent was over, and I remembered the moments and words, wise words said to me by the people who cared. And then my phone made a sound. It was an iMessage from Patrick: “Gabrielle! It’s time for an update. What’s happening? Where are you now?”

Now… Now is an interesting concept I thought. Physically I’m now in Paris. Mentally and spiritually a bit away, but certainly on my way. Away, because I feel that it is easier to play a supporting role in this movie of life at the moment, my moment side role is less dramatic, less serious, it’s plain and convenient. No flames, no games. I thought about our last conversation with bitter-sweetness. I remembered your voice, loud discomfort, and hanging up. My radical transparency made you feel uncomfortable, and I didn’t even love you, I never did… I even don’t know whether I liked you. But I was certainly amused and seduced. I loved what you represented to me.

I cut my cigar. I didn’t want to smoke anymore. As I didn’t want to drink coffee anymore. I put on Lykke Li’s album and started preparing for tomorrow’s meeting. Career adventures and ambitions, my mind and life savers. And for a cliché scene, as I was dancing and singing along “I’m Good, I’m Gone” I felt so right in this moment, being on this path. It was a musical equivalent of a shower for me. A fresh course of thinking and feeling rushed over me. And I didn’t care anymore. Most probably we won’t see each other again anymore, so take care.

 

I continued my nomadic lifestyle, people watching and not judging, I forgave more easily and I didn’t put on any pressure. And if somebody was over reacting, was too exotic, neurotic or erotic, I pressed ‘delete’ and forgot. I didn’t care about the truth of others anymore, but I maintained my own frank essence. My strong and honest essence. I maintained myself and progressed in my own way. And I was grateful, I was certainly very grateful at that time. I started getting more freelance writing submissions and my life went on.

Once I had to write a short story about the concept of joy. ‘So what is joy?’ I thought. It’s not only a classic perfume of Jean Patou… And suddenly you came up to my mind, out of nowhere. I remembered so clearly the moment when I asked you to look me into the eyes, and you refused. You refused! I asked ‘Why!?’ and you said to my surprise that it makes you vulnerable. And then you decided to lie, you lied about everything during your well-fabricated performance in the hotel room, because I couldn’t catch your sight. So, I thought of joy…

Joy is freedom. Freedom of self, perceptions and actions. Joy is about the opening, about making yourself vulnerable, it’s about getting closer. Being able to smell the lightest scent of the other. Joy is honesty and transparency. Joy is personal. Joy is about looking each other deeply into the eyes. Joy is trust, a trustful deep sight straight into one’s eyes. Joy is about the touch without resistance. Joy is a dance, a shared rhythm, shared motions and emotions. You can detect the Joy from the sight into one’s eyes.

And as I wrote this introduction, I felt sad. I felt sad about you, I felt sad about the people who were scared to experience the simple joys in life. Susan Sontag said that to write is to know something. I stopped. Did I actually know what joy is? Did I know anything in this life at all? I decided to go for a run and postpone my admission about joy, what seemed to be first-place an easy piece.

I came back and received another message from Patrick:
“Man is what he believes wrote Anton Chekhov.”
I answered:
“That’s true. So, what you believe will happen within next 5 years?”
Patrick answered me without a pause:
“Year 1: go full-time internally at a brand or start-up I love,
Year 2: convince you to move to NYC,
Year 3: start our secret art show,
Year 4: convince you to move to the East Village from Brooklyn,
Year 5: make our first million.”

New York… I’ve been thinking about this city every now and then. And I thought about you again. I remembered how happy you were after buying your new Ducati. I remembered how we drove around the city, my hair carelessly blown by the wind, as I breathed in the smell of your leather jacket and hugged you strongly.
“Everything alright, babe?” you asked.
“Mhm,” I murmured, but I knew that nothing was right. Instead, I decided to enjoy the moment. This was the moment of joy – you, me, NYC, and the scent of a warm summer night in the city. 

 

“Men’s natures are alike; it is their habits that separate them.”
– Confucius

 

Me and Patrick, we are different although we view things in the same way, our lives, our lifestyles are very different. And most of all I cherished my freedom and travels, new meetings and greetings, and the joy of moving around and exploring. My joy right now is my freedom. And in Paris I felt this perpetual presence of this sublime joy, so I decided to stay and look around for a while. But little did I know that nothing was simple in Paris.
Paris was an old city.

 

…to be continued
Third Chapter from my book “Notes of Nomad”

DRESSED TO SHOOT…

…and document the evolution of fashion.

Julien Boudet is one of the most known fashion photographers of today. He started in New York 2013, and has been unstoppable ever since. Inspired by the landscapes and architecture of the city, he chooses style, the moment of style over anything else. The moment in history that is in the making. As a visual journalist of street styles and urban movements, the city and the people in the city, Julien has an exceptional eye for fashion fusions and infusions, and proper vocabulary to speak the language of clothing.

 

THE SPEECH ON THE STREETS

Julien started from shooting the streets of New York City, later on choosing people and their style of dressing as his main subject. Great talent won’t stay unrecognized for a long time, and so with Julien, his work was noticed pretty quickly and project by project he rooted into the field of fashion photography.

Boudet admits: “I liked taking photos, but I would never thought that I could make living out of it… I went to Parson’s to study photography, which was good to learn the basics and the technical stuff. It was pretty useful… But I dropped out because it became boring for me. My course mates wanted to do mostly some artsy stuff, like shooting nude self-portraits, and other abstract stuff. No one was into fashion, and at that point I already knew exactly what I wanted to do.”

Julien has always been interested in clothing and styles of the streets. “Designers still get inspired by the streets,” says Julien, “They use our* photos for their next collection references.”

And trends…

“And also marketing people and trend researchers use our* photos to create mood boards… We* have so much content each season. If to put all our* photos in the line from one season, you can certainly spot common elements and trends coming up.”

 

When talking different cities and styles, they keep on blending, and trends today are rather global than city-specific. The language of clothing is more or less international. “You might see some differences within the the big cities. In NYC you see a little bit of everything, Paris might be a little bit more classy, but mostly trends are global. For example, Yeezy shoes can be seen pretty much everywhere, and Vetements is present during every fashion week, in every city,” comments Boudet.

Obviously, brands and certain items tell a lot about a person, and Julien is always interested in reading people through their clothing, for instance, in his opinion shoes do tell a lot about a person. But for him it all comes subconsciously, automatically. He admits that some people try too hard by wearing the latest trends and brands. Personally he keeps away from the that, and at the very moment he prefers in his wardrobe the creations of Haider Ackermann, Daniel Andresen and Boris Bidjan Saberi, appreciating the combination of design, comfort and functionality. Especially while working and moving around a lot.

 

EVERYDAY BUSINESS AND BATTLES

Before moving to the States Julien was studying Business in France. “It was very general,” as he admits. “I didn’t know what to do, and my mom wanted me to go to college, so I went to study business.” Which now turns out to be a part of his everyday life while freelancing and being basically a one man brand.

Social media helps and plays a big role in his everyday business. “All we* do, especially within social media is daily marketing business. That’s how it all started for me.” Julien is being very honest by admitting: “For example, my mom still doesn’t understand what I do. She’s like – how do you make money and why do you travel so much? For her it’s a little bit weird.”

And others too…

“People tend to think that I do only street style, mainly because of my social media account, but I do also editorials, consulting, lookbooks, and backstage.”

And Julien loves shooting backstage. He loves the feeling of compression and the moment of battle. It’s a definite challenge.

I like the pressure and everyone being stressed out and rushing. No one can really be a diva at that time. I like to capture those last minute detail fixings, and I like the fact that you get to see the collections before they go public. I think it’s cool. And you can be creative… But it’s also very challenging. For example at Dior Homme, we* got in in slots, and a slot of 10 photographers got only 10 minutes to shoot the backstage.”

 

WHY SO BLUE

Although known and followed by many under the name Mr ‘Blue Fashion’, Julien says that blue isn’t his favorite color. He compares colors with trends, as they both tend to come and go. Last years he’s been into wearing black, now turning into muted shades: “I find bright colors and patterns being a bit too much… They’re distracting.”

Besides the fact that blue represents innovation, freshness and new ideas, it has much deeper meaning for Julien. Blue represents the environment where he grew up. Born and raised by the Mediterranean seaside in the South of France, sea-blue plays an important role in photographer’s life, reminding and representing his origin and vision, his past, his future, and his personal take on the fashion photography. And one can see within his images the appreciation of the movement, the waves and the flow of fabrics, the step forward of the garment and the person wearing it.

 

FOR THE FUTURE REFERENCE

Julien still loves the energy of NYC, but he also sees Asia as a growing market in the future. He says that South Korea has an interesting fashion week concept, which takes place right after Tokyo’s fashion week.

And he also admits that within this fast pace work and travelling it’s hard to find time for himself. Julien confesses that for him is important taking a step back and seeing what’s been done, and also what could be done as the next move. Even thought he enjoys his intense fashion week schedules and travels, during the summer he likes to take time-off to visit his family and friends in South of France, to rest and re-charge. “I see myself in photography, but I don’t know about street styles. I’m 30 now and it’s still fun, but when I’ll get 35 I don’t think I’ll enjoy it as much as I do now. It’s good for practice. You should do street styles for 5-6 years at least. It’s a good thing to do for sure… But I know that I’m not here randomly, I know what I’m doing, and I have plans… I have my next step on my mind.”

 

 

*The reference to “us/we” means the posse of street style photographers – a community, a sub-culture on its own. Julien says that all the photographers know each other: “Sometimes you have teams, some people stick together, some don’t… It’s like being back in high school again. Also, it can be sometimes very fake.”

Like everywhere else, in every other field.

 

Written by Julia Ahtijainen
Published in Aesthetist Magazine

BLACK AND WHITE REASONS

AN ODE TO THE BLACK AND WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY

 

It was that time in the morning when birds ruled the city, no single man was out.
The sun was rising and the birds sang their songs in a total solitude, it was 5AM in the morning when I decided, after my 3-day-all-alone-Hitchcock-movie-session, to take up this black and white journey.

 

If not coffee and cigarettes then WHY BLACK AND WHITE?
It’s basic. Basics are important.
Black and white is simple.
And I believe that everything great is simple.
Colours contain too many meanings, differentiating culturally and their meaning depending on the environment where they appear.

 

BLACK AND WHITE HAS CLASS, A CERTAIN KIND OF NOSTALGIC CHARACTER.

Within my Bachelor’s thesis I analysed the sign of nostalgia, and I think that black and white imagery possesses always a certain amount of nostalgia. A nostalgia towards the future, a nostalgia of the past…

Black and white is slow, it makes you stop and think, it makes you pay attention and link. Black and white gives time. Let’s think time for a second.

 

WHAT IS TIME?
The value of time; stop the time; time is money; time runs fast; time is about the present and the past… the present and the future; there’s a timetable; a tea o’clock; we all pass the test of time…

BLACK AND WHITE IS THE MOMENT OF TIME.

Black and white takes time to fall in love with, while colourful photo is more outspoken. Colours are out there, saying too much, flirting and revealing too much, making it all somehow too obvious. Black and white for me is an attempt to say that one must be able to “read between the lines”. Black and white represents contradiction, contrasts, a clash of two different sides.

BLACK AND WHITE MAKES YOU THINK “WHY?”

 

FIRST INFLUENCER was my boyfriend at that time. He was extremely hard-working, creative, and he had an excellent sense of criticism. But most of all he saw my potential and he saw who I might become. So le grand thanks goes here to him for pushing and forcing me to see everyday things in another angle and reinterpret them in my own style.

FIRST ROLE MODEL was Dutch photographer Anton Corbijn. In Russian the main reason would sound ‘красота в квадратах’ (meaning the beauty in squares). I was fascinated by his subjects in squares, honest emotion, contrasts, contradictions, shadows, body language of a model… Everything!

Black and white is also a limitation.

American actor Orson Welles said once that the enemy of art is the absence of limitations, and I think it’s true. One should be creative with what he or she has.

 

It has been a journey of almost 8 years now…
And for me black and white shows actually the true colour of the subject.

 

Written by Julia Ahtijainen
Published in KTLG magazine

WHEN CRITICISING SCENTS

ON PERFUMERY COMMUNITY AND CRITICISM

 

“In the case of sociology however, we are always walking on hot coals, and the things we discuss are alive, they’re not dead and buried.” 

― Pierre Bourdieu

 

Different professions foster different attitudes and lifestyles. Some professions for example require smelling, weighting and thinking. And there’s always a good amount of pure and cute naivety of a beginner. The search for truth and the moment of decision-making to take up the run. Marathon or sprint – that depending on a vision and personality.

And if you choose running the marathon, you still have to practice sprints and breathing in between. Breathe in and breathe out, train, reflect, create and summarize. One of those sprints for me took place in Milan, at Esxence tradeshow dedicated to the art of perfumery. Discussions heard and products experienced triggered in me both – a culture enthusiast and just a frank person who enjoys arguments that evoke the positive and developing sense of criticism.

 

But before we proceed, one has to answer – why the sense of smell and why perfumes? The reasons are mostly multi-disciplinary and cross-cultural.

First and foremost perfumes are about intelligence and beauty, and beauty differs from one cultural room to another, from one person to another. Beauty is ungraspable, it is based on the experiences and knowledge. And a perfume is definitely one beautiful work of art. Secondly, the all-known and over-used fact that smell is connected with our memory and plays upon the feeling of nostalgia. Yes, we all know that pretty well from our personal experiences. Thirdly, there’s something mysterious about it all, and one is just simply curious by nature. Smell cannot be easily transmitted as images or melodies, it is a less reliable sensation than vision or sound. So, here rises a question about the communication and possible interpretations. And last but not least, from a storyteller point of view, perfumes or lets say scents in general are chemical stories, novellas, and poems that carry meanings. They are messages to be perceived and kept close.

So, these were the main reasons why the sense of smell and why perfumes.

 

PERFUMERY CULTURE IS…

…’farouche’ as they say in French, meaning both ‘shy’ and ‘fierce’ at the same time. I started from the shy side learning it all from the basics, reading and measuring scented poems line by line in the laboratory in Paris. One discovered that there are numerous opinions and opinion holders within the industry. Many of them barely being near the scale or touching a pipette, but still having annoying opinions for example about oriental scents, not knowing how really annoying it is to add resinoids into the perfume formula.

(background sound: ‘Drop It Like It’s Hot’ by Snoop Dogg)

Prophet Muhammad was said to be a perfume lover, one of his quotes is that perfume is the intangible quality of god. The unmeasurable and otherworldly. One can also view a perfume as a product of culture full of meanings. But how to perceive it? How to evaluate the quality? How to interpret it? And how to talk about it? Where to position this mysterious piece of art?

To hear more opinions, I decided to attend Esxence lectures in Milan, to hear the opinions towards the approach on perfumery criticism, and of course – smell them all!

 

THE STABLE MARKETING POINT OF VIEW

It is easy to grasp and understand fragrance from a marketing point of view. Simply by viewing it as a product. We can evaluate the packaging, the amount of costly raw materials used, the effort that was put to produce “the story” behind the creation, that is “connected with the soul” or was “inspired by the travels to exotic places”… We’re all familiar with them, and this all is simply great, inspiring and somehow educating. Here we sense perfume from a consumer point of view: where is it distributed, how is it communicated within the media, who is the main target group etc. Clear enough, fair enough. There’s a logical system within this approach, there are numbers and stats that matter the most.

Coming from semiotic woods, and having background in qualitative research, I must stay true to my roots and agree with Vin Scully, who said that statistics are used much like a drunk uses a lamppost: for support, not illumination. Let’s illuminate.

 

THE LIGHT ART POINT OF VIEW

But if many of us, including me, state that perfumery is art, then what is art and how to evaluate it? How to criticize a fragrance from the art point of view? At Exsence during the lecture on perfumery criticism it wasn’t yet clear which approach to take.

There were comparisons and thoughts about approaching it from the movie industry and awards point of view. Also, from a literary and from an author point of views. What remained dominating within this discussion was the importance of exchanging information, impressions and creating the language of perfumery.

Yes, of course we can “culturize” scents and fragrances in that way, make them more domestic and common. But it’s still not enough if to develop a system for perfumery criticism and judgement. In my frank opinion, the logic and the concept of criticism went missing during this panel discussion.

frankly_perf_1

As heard at the forum, analyzing perfumes through their creators is a very beautiful idea, and poetically speaking definitely a fruitful ground where to break it down. But it would be definitely too subject-focused approach, and it wouldn’t give us a proper playground.

I agree that we could borrow frameworks from the movie industry. There are plenty of different schools that supply us with the tools to analyze a moving image and meanings behind it. The language of the movie and cultural codes in it. There’s a great contribution by Italian and French movie theorists, Russian formalists, and Umberto Eco’s developments based on Metz and Pasolini’s works. Movie industry has definitely a very wide variety of tools for criticism, evaluation and analysis. There are lots of different approaches and ways to grasp movie as an art piece and as a product of a culture.

 

Drawing upon this, I would suggest that if talking about fragrance criticism we should develop same systematic approach, be it based on structuralists’ views or language logicians. We do already have a great basis of thoughts and conclusions by the great ones such as Edmond Roudnitska, who applied Kantian aesthetic judgment within his writings and creations. And if to establish a language of perfumery and develop the proper criticism, one should have a system, a system of scented logic. For instance, we could borrow frameworks from logicians or semioticians, such as Ludwig Wittgenstein or Roland Barthes and apply them to perfumery analysis.

 

ON THE CONTRIBUTION OF ONLINE OPINION LEADERS

Freedom is great. And it’s definitely great that nowadays everyone has freedom to express themselves in this digital world. It’s great that there are platforms where to gather and discuss, where to connect with like-minded people, where to share your knowledge and thoughts, where to exchange and learn… My question here would be is this great greatness always right? Should one take all this for a pure truth and right expertise? As heard from the creators’ side, some parts of this greatness aren’t always exactly true, some parts of it aren’t always right, some parts of it are just a heavy mass of personal opinions and reflections.

What went missing during the panel discussion and the glorification of the rise of online community, was the other side of the coin. And there’s always the other side. Besides the positive values and awareness that these opinion leaders and platforms create, there’s also the harmful side. The level and the expertise of these opinions might be sometimes questionable.

Start-ups are great, but they’re really great when people behind them have a certain level of education and experience. One cannot become an expert out of the blue just by buying a new camera and deciding to blog about something curious such as perfumery. Pardon my French, I don’t want to say that it’s easy to smell and track, not at all. But it’s definitely way too easy to create opinions and likes. Which are subjective and definitely not the main elements to consider if we want to speak about the real criticism.

 

 

Sometimes I speak too much. Sometimes I don’t speak at all. But I’m certainly curious to explore, learn and understand. I do value highly exchanging and I do think that having an opinion is essential. And if talking perfumery criticism, it should be fair and professional, acknowledged and conscious about cultural backgrounds, different interpretations and final meaning depending on the environment.

Criticism is cold and calculated. Criticism is systematic and balanced. If to start building up the language of perfumery and the criticism of it’s grammar and vocabulary, one has to consider not only the final product and the affection and impressions of the market. One has to consider all the elements, codes and parts, all the lines: raw materials used, their quality, the complexity or simplicity of the formula, length or shortness, the outcome, the effect, perceptions and meanings arised. It should have some personal reflections, mainly based on the knowledge of classics to compare and detect possible copies.

A perfume is more than a story and the nose behind it. Perfumery is way more complex entity to analyse and criticize. American drama critic George Jean Nathan has said that criticism is the windows and chandeliers of art: it illuminates the enveloping darkness in which art might otherwise rest only vaguely discernible, and perhaps altogether unseen. So critique is essential, it’s needed for an art piece to survive, to come alive.

After visiting Exsence and talking with the creators and noses, one thing is clear – there is passion, there are years of learning and working, there are pieces of art and stories. Very strong ones and very well curated. Scent making is definitely an art but what about criticism?

 

Maybe this write-up is too ‘farouche’, meaning the fierce side of this word and reflecting the frankly ambitious view of a newcomer. Maybe one will eat her words in a couple of years… Maybe yes, maybe not, but one is for sure – there’s always a way to make it better, to become better and to evolve in every sense of this verb.

 

Written by Julia Ahtijainen

THE ATTRACTION OF IRVING PENN

 

To begin with, attraction isn’t necessarily physical, even if it subsequently becomes so. The same can be said about Irving Penn’s work – it’s attractive. Not having any particular type, nor special fascination or object, be it a nude body, street signs, or a pitcher – he chooses carefully and has his preferences, but they aren’t fixed, they are extraordinarily attractive.

 

Irving Penn is doubtlessly the most prolific and respected photographer of the 20th century. He’s mostly known for his fashion photography, portraits, and still lives. Penn’s career included groundbreaking editorials for Vogue magazine, and innovative commercial imagery for clients such as Issey Miyake, Clinique, General Foods, and De Beers.

Penn’s extensive artwork explored the boundaries of personal and public expressions. He played within art and commerce through compelling images that expanded the creative limits of the photographic medium of the 20th century.

 

PERSONAL WORK

January 29 – March 5, 2016 Pace/MacGill Gallery NYC will be exhibiting Irving Penn’s “Personal Work”, which will include “Bone Forest” (New York, 1980), “The Fallen Pitcher” (New York, 1980), “Nude No. 55” (New York, c. 1949-1950), “The Bath (A) (Dancers Workshop of San
Francisco)” (San Francisco, 1967), “Vacancy (with doorknob)” (New York, 1939) and many more. This carefully selected collection of images will give the observer another point of view on Penn’s work, more personal point of view.

In 1949, just a year before Irving Penn’s editorial images of the Paris couture collections created new visual aesthetics of fashion photography, Penn began what is considered perhaps his most personal but least known compilation: studies of tightly-framed, corpulent nudes that explore the beauty and physicality of the female form.

Women he chose as models and the way he pictured them was highly unconventional by fashion standards that time. Although charged with sexual undertone the images were extraordinary for that period, with twisted and stretched skins, folded fleshy body parts, mounded hips, puddled breasts and extra bellies. Even if most of the pictures lack limbs and heads, Penn’s figures are always complete in their partiality, just as ancient sculptures representing the Goddesses, so these nudes represent the Woman and fertility, embracing the concept of bodily beauty that is not prescriptive, nor trendy or exclusive.

 

UNCONVENTIONAL EFFECTS

Unconventional in both subject and composition, Penn’s series were also radical in technique. He drastically bleached, overexposed, and redeveloped his prints to create stunningly unusual tonal effects.

For example, a photograph “Woman Turning Over” (New York, 1995) having a painting effect concealed through bleaching, is still recognizable as a photograph. This image speaks humanity, and is excessively honest. Known for his pared-down compositional style, Penn often photographed his subjects in the natural light of the studio using minimal decorations and additions. His fashion images were accurate, sophisticated, appealing and effective. Photographer himself has said:

“A good photograph is one that communicates a fact, touches the heart, and leaves the viewer a changed person for having seen it; it is in one word: effective.”

Being successful at creating the effect of la femme with his series of “Nudes”, in unconventional forms and formats, also in creating commercial images that work as landmarks while travelling on the historic path of fashion and advertising. Penn’s work illuminates passion. Passion towards chosen subjects and techniques. Both, passion and attraction are personal, always straightforward, not needing extras.

 

LESS IS ALWAYS MORE

Not only within portraiture, but also with still life, Penn’s compositions are highly organized. They stand as assemblages of objects, articulating the abstract interplay of lines and volumes. Penn was one of the first photographers to set his subjects against a simple grey or white background, using effectively the style notion of “less is more”. Penn’s photographs are composed with a great attention to detail in a pure and simple way. His black and white prints are notable for their deep contrast, giving them a highly clean look.

Here, the question of truth is irrelevant. Because Penn’s work is attractive, honestly and simply attractive. One can stare at his subjects for ages, observe them, contemplate them. And his subjects… they don’t know that they’ve been observed for such a long time, they don’t know that they’ve been framed, captured into a frame of attraction.

 

Viewing Irving Penn’s “Personal Work” is like reading between the lines. So simple and effective, yet his works tell the viewer more than expected. And here, expectations play conclusive role. Here the expectations can be compare to the expectations of a marriage. So completely does he enter his photography that he and his subjects become engaged in a consensual relation, a mutual give and take that is more than plain passion or obvious love, it’s the everlasting attraction than anything else that possesses the viewer. Every object of Irving Penn becomes gradually attractively narrated. And this style of narration should be known and celebrated as the legacy of Irving Penn.

And it feels good to be attractive.

 

Written by Julia Ahtijainen
Published in LE MILE magazine