Scent to Landscape

ContrastsA propensity for visual dominance can be found in many aspects of Western culture, to the extent sounds and smells of landscapes can often be overlooked.  It frequently requires, therefore, different forms of attentiveness to rediscover these other sensory elements of our landscapes.  However even so attuned, we may journey through a landscape with certain preconceptions, levels of knowledge from our broader experiences, which act as sensory filters.  For example, when we travel to the Highlands of Scotland we may in part anticipate the heather covered mountainous vistas, the stag silhouetted on a distant hill top.  Perhaps we will expect to hear the haunting tones of the bagpipe, or in certain locations the swoosh of wind turbines.

But what is it we anticipate smelling ?

ScentsIn part this perhaps depends on the season of our visit, damp autumn leaves, blossoms in spring, … … .

Some landscapes have been given special status, perhaps due to their outstanding scenic values or their ecological importance.  Of these, it is perhaps the National Parks which most people are aware of (as opposed to Ramsars, AONB, SSSIs).  Many National Parks sit in our historical consciousness, are culturally potent (often landscapes which have long been a source of inspiration of poets and artists) and attract huge numbers of visitors who wish to experience their distinctive characters.  Do they have sensory qualities which are distinct from the landscape beyond the boundaries?

SoundsWe may expect that the aural qualities of some National Parks are different, perhaps quieter, and there may be an association with an anticipation of fresh clean air, …. but are there other ways in which we might be preconditioned to anticipate other scents of landscape?

Could a range of domestic scent modification products, the ‘National Parks Fragrance Collection’, from ‘a leading home fragrance brand’ in any way change our olafactory relationships with certain landscapes?

Smell Our National ParksAvailable in a range of products (such as candle, premium reed diffuser and fragrance gel), you can fill your house with scents inspired by fifteen National Parks.  For each National Park there is an emblematic scent combination with a brief explanation about how it is inspired by the character of the landscapes.

National Park Scent For  example the Lake District – Midnight Berry & Shimmering Mist – ‘Delight your senses with the scent of juicy berries and the crisp freshness inspired by the misty Lake District.’

Lake District ScentOthers examples of combinations and how they evoke the landscape of a National Park include:

Brecon Beacons – Wild Blossom & Fresh Mountain Dew – ‘Let the scent of fresh mountain dew and white floral blossoms transport you to the striking hills of the Brecon Beacons.’

Cairngorms – Spiced Apple & Snowy Mountains – ‘Indulge yourself with spirited and wild aromas inspired by the evocative Cairngorms mountains.’

Exmoor – Sea Spray & Ocean Minerals – ‘Inspired by the fresh ocean breeze sweeping across the dramatic sea cliffs of Exmoor.’

New Forest – Golden Woodlands & Sweet Nectar – ‘Let the sweet warming scents take you back to walks in the sunshine in the New Forest woodlands.’

Snowdonia – Mountain Sunset & Vibrant Zest – ‘Create a glowing ambiance in your home with the invigorating scents inspired by the Snowdonian Peaks.’

Yorkshire Dales – White Rose & Pink Sweet Pea – ‘Bask in the playful scent of the hay meadows and gardens inspired by the Yorkshire Dales in full bloom.’

The UK National Parks (‘Britain’s Breathing Spaces’) explain that these fragrances

‘help re-ignite memories of the experiences you’ve had with family and friends in one of the National Parks, as well as inspire you to get out and explore even more’

It is further explained:

‘In addition to raising awareness of the National Parks family, our partnership with Air Wick will help generate funds for vital projects to conserve heritage and improve facilities for the National Parks and the communities within them.’

‘We hope that this partnership will help raise our profile and the diversity of the UK National Parks with a new audience that might be unfamiliar with what we do.  We are looking forward to working with Air Wick to bring the delights of Britain’s breathing spaces into people’s homes.’

The producer explains:

‘Our scents reflect the changing seasons and intense variety of the British outdoors, evoking the beautiful landscapes the National Parks represent.’

I wonder if in any small way such scents will provide a precondition for sensory perceptions of our National Parks,

when you visit the Lake District will you always anticipate the smell of:

Landscapes

Midnight Berry & Shimmering Mist

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All images above, not of scent modification products, are of the landscapes of the Lake District National Park.  For more info on the establishment of the UK National Parks.

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Trapped In The Matrix

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA When idly waiting for a train in 2006, I spotted the figure and realised it was Neo lying beside the rail.  When I travel freely on the line I occasionally remember to check the progress of our Matrix traveler at Mobil Avenue station.

Matrix 2012 And time moved on, by 2012 he had journeyed perhaps 10 centimeters, body rotated through 180 degrees, head buried beneath stone.  A growing range of discarded rubbish beginning to aggregate in the Matrix.

Matrix 2014By Autumn 2014, there has been little noticeable movement, our little hero essentially now trapped for all time by The Trainman.

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I suspect when spotted in 2006 the Neo figure had been fairly recently lost, as it looked quite fresh and unweathered.  Whether it was an original 1999 figure is not clear. Somebody may know ?

There are some possible clues to how it should sit typologically in the development of Matrix figure material culture. There are two green buttons on the back, which when pushed probably made a leg kick or arm punch.  The almost vertical line of the robes, is perhaps more reminiscent of the calmer figure of 1999, my recollection is that many figures from the 2003 Matrix Reloaded depict a greater degree of swirling robes.

When Neo dropped out of circulation and became trapped in the Matrix of the railway line, he became a small piece of archaeological evidence in the landscape, slowly descending into the track ballast.  Ironically it is possible the machines may have moved Neo, as he fell in a linear cultural railscape, which I think requires the ballast to be maintained by ballast regulators and ballast tampers trundling up and down the line when most of us sleep.