On Labored Analogies

    On Labored Analogies

    post #1 of 15
    Thread Starter 
    Chandler Burr, if you aren't familiar with him, is a self-proclaimed hero of perfumery, the alleged romantic warrior to the cryptic kingdom that is the fragrance industry. His most recent venture in elucidating our beloved--if confused and confusing--artistic medium, The Art of Scent, is a general step in the right direction; the exhibit presents perfumes without packaging or branding bias. At least, that's what he's selling. Unfortunately, The Art of Scent confuses more than it explains. Slapping a label like "Luminism" or "Post-Brutalism" on perfume is, to say the least, labored. To paraphrase Richard Feynman, "there is a great difference in knowing something's name and understanding the thing itself." At a time where descriptions are just as tenuous as advertisement, we must develop a true critical approach to perfume, absent of such hokum as Burr's "money" and "fog" discriptors, for it to garner respect as a legitimate art.
    post #2 of 15

     I wonder how many people bought the catalogue and if that helped to progress the issue for them.

    post #3 of 15

    Maybe it's a language issue but frankly, treeman, I don't get your point.

    A link to the source you are concretely referring to would be helpful.


     

    post #4 of 15
    Thread Starter 
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Graphite View Post

    Maybe it's a language issue but frankly, treeman, I don't get your point.
    A link to the source you are concretely referring to would be helpful.

    http://tinyurl.com/km9b9dc
    post #5 of 15

    Point taken.

    post #6 of 15

    I don't dislike analogies in general. Unfortunately, it's hard to describe perfumes if somebody doesn't know the main genres or materials. In the specific, I don't agree with all of its descriptions, but that's another story.

     

    cacio

    post #7 of 15

    Thank you for the link.

    I think it's a nice exhibition concept. I am unsure if I want to call perfumery art but the attempt to get a grip of these immaterial exhibits and to communicate their purpose (or nature) by use of art historical terms is legitimate. And interesting. In my opinion not labored at all.

     

    post #8 of 15
    Thread Starter 
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Graphite View Post

    Thank you for the link.


    I think it's a nice exhibition concept. I am unsure if I want to call perfumery art but the attempt to get a grip of these immaterial exhibits and to communicate their purpose (or nature) by use of art historical terms is legitimate. And interesting. In my opinion not labored at all.


     

    I am not disputing Burr's idea that (good) perfume is art, but rather how he attempts to show it. Removing confounding factors like company advertisement and adding them back in via his own nonsensical descriptions and his, yes, labored parallels between perfumery and painting is what I think is damaging for the medium.
    post #9 of 15

    I have to disagree with you treeman.   You seem somewhat anti Chandler Burr; your opening post contained some unnecessary remarks about him, and I feel that you would be critical of anything that he did.   I read the article and thought the exhibition sounded wonderful.   Using recognised terms of art history (Modernism, Brutalism etc.) to describe a fragrance seems to be, in this context, entirely acceptable.

     

    Whether Perfumery may be considered an art, is an entirely different subject.   Chandler thinks it is, and his exhibition reflects his ides, and from the article, does so admirably. 


    Edited by David Ruskin - 6/18/13 at 12:47am
    post #10 of 15

    Being perfume evanescent and being very poor- for cultural and historical reasons- the human ability to express olfactory sensations with a specific language, I think that metaphors and analogies referring to other, better explored senses, are inevitable.

    CB draws them from visual art, one could also think to use musical analogies- both are areas where a long history of criticism has developed a - more or less- widely shared specific language.

    The problem, IMO, is the subjectivity of these analogies- being perfumery a rather virgin territory, a shared code doesn't exist, yet, and almost everybody is entitled to affirm whatever they like.

    post #11 of 15
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by iodine View Post
    ... one could also think to use musical analogies- ...

     

    I was thinking of music, too. Music and cooking/haute cuisine. 

    post #12 of 15
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by iodine View Post

    The problem, IMO, is the subjectivity of these analogies- being perfumery a rather virgin territory, a shared code doesn't exist, yet, and almost everybody is entitled to affirm whatever they like.
    Well stated.
    post #13 of 15
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Graphite View Post

     

    I was thinking of music, too. Music and cooking/haute cuisine. 

     


    It's a while since I delved in The Guide, but I seem to remember a few musical analogies there / and they didnīt seem out of place.

     

    I think, ultimately, the perfume critic is faced with describing the experience of the perfume the best way they can. Sure one can do that by going through its progression, talking of how well the composition is balanced or not, how the notes are realized. That's informative but a bit pedestrian. A good review aims for something more, and in striving for that, the colour of analogies, wit, and sympathetic (but extraneous) concepts can illuminate the writing. Of course one can also overbalance into pointless language for language's sake.

    post #14 of 15
    Thread Starter 
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by gimmegreen View Post



    Of course one can also overbalance into pointless language for language's sake.

    Analogies certainly have a place; their entire purpose is to better illustrate an abstract thing. I think musical terms like "counterpoint," "symphonic," "brassy," etc. are apt crossover terms because they accurately describe what's going on in a perfume. But there is a line. When analogies start concealing more than they reveal, when they add an unnecessary layer of terminologies and imprecise parallels, then they have undermined their own purpose. Moral: use terms from whatever medium you like, so long as they don't conceal the thing being described.
    post #15 of 15
    Totally agree with you, of course! I must admit I've never read anything, nor seen the exhibition, by Chandler Burr, so I can't judge his analogies. I guess it's anyway very common among critics of whatever form of art to have people who just seem to love the obscure, the arcane, the ermetic, while others are more legible. One can choose who to follow!
    I guess Luca Turin has a beautiful and very effective way to put analogies- I've just read an article from NZZ archive where he uses a Magritte to explain the concept of artificial... "Professional" it' s called in case you're interested. http://doublebasenotes.blogspot.it/2010/04/professional-by-luca-turin.html?m=1
    And i remember this same topic discussed some time ago on Grain de musc..
    Edited by iodine - 6/18/13 at 10:20pm
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    6/16/13 at 11:59am

    treeman5823 said:



    Chandler Burr, if you aren't familiar with him, is a self-proclaimed hero of perfumery, the alleged romantic warrior to the cryptic kingdom that is the fragrance industry. His most recent venture in elucidating our beloved--if confused and confusing--artistic medium, The Art of Scent, is a general step in the right direction; the exhibit presents perfumes without packaging or branding bias. At least, that's what he's selling. Unfortunately, The Art of Scent confuses more than it explains. Slapping a label like "Luminism" or "Post-Brutalism" on perfume is, to say the least, labored. To paraphrase Richard Feynman, "there is a great difference in knowing something's name and understanding the thing itself." At a time where descriptions are just as tenuous as advertisement, we must develop a true critical approach to perfume, absent of such hokum as Burr's "money" and "fog" discriptors, for it to garner respect as a legitimate art.

    6/16/13 at 12:18pm

    lpp said:



     I wonder how many people bought the catalogue and if that helped to progress the issue for them.

    6/16/13 at 12:41pm

    Graphite said:



    Maybe it's a language issue but frankly, treeman, I don't get your point.

    A link to the source you are concretely referring to would be helpful.


     

    6/16/13 at 1:22pm

    treeman5823 said:



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Graphite View Post

    Maybe it's a language issue but frankly, treeman, I don't get your point.
    A link to the source you are concretely referring to would be helpful.

    http://tinyurl.com/km9b9dc

    6/16/13 at 2:49pm

    lpp said:



    Point taken.

    6/16/13 at 3:05pm

    cacio said:



    I don't dislike analogies in general. Unfortunately, it's hard to describe perfumes if somebody doesn't know the main genres or materials. In the specific, I don't agree with all of its descriptions, but that's another story.

     

    cacio

    6/16/13 at 3:09pm

    Graphite said:



    Thank you for the link.

    I think it's a nice exhibition concept. I am unsure if I want to call perfumery art but the attempt to get a grip of these immaterial exhibits and to communicate their purpose (or nature) by use of art historical terms is legitimate. And interesting. In my opinion not labored at all.

     

    6/16/13 at 7:38pm

    treeman5823 said:



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Graphite View Post

    Thank you for the link.


    I think it's a nice exhibition concept. I am unsure if I want to call perfumery art but the attempt to get a grip of these immaterial exhibits and to communicate their purpose (or nature) by use of art historical terms is legitimate. And interesting. In my opinion not labored at all.


     

    I am not disputing Burr's idea that (good) perfume is art, but rather how he attempts to show it. Removing confounding factors like company advertisement and adding them back in via his own nonsensical descriptions and his, yes, labored parallels between perfumery and painting is what I think is damaging for the medium.

    6/17/13 at 1:48am

    David Ruskin said:



    I have to disagree with you treeman.   You seem somewhat anti Chandler Burr; your opening post contained some unnecessary remarks about him, and I feel that you would be critical of anything that he did.   I read the article and thought the exhibition sounded wonderful.   Using recognised terms of art history (Modernism, Brutalism etc.) to describe a fragrance seems to be, in this context, entirely acceptable.

     

    Whether Perfumery may be considered an art, is an entirely different subject.   Chandler thinks it is, and his exhibition reflects his ides, and from the article, does so admirably. 


    Edited by David Ruskin - 6/18/13 at 12:47am

    6/17/13 at 6:13am

    iodine said:



    Being perfume evanescent and being very poor- for cultural and historical reasons- the human ability to express olfactory sensations with a specific language, I think that metaphors and analogies referring to other, better explored senses, are inevitable.

    CB draws them from visual art, one could also think to use musical analogies- both are areas where a long history of criticism has developed a - more or less- widely shared specific language.

    The problem, IMO, is the subjectivity of these analogies- being perfumery a rather virgin territory, a shared code doesn't exist, yet, and almost everybody is entitled to affirm whatever they like.

    6/17/13 at 1:25pm

    Graphite said:



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by iodine View Post
    ... one could also think to use musical analogies- ...

     

    I was thinking of music, too. Music and cooking/haute cuisine. 

    6/17/13 at 4:44pm

    hednic said:



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by iodine View Post

    The problem, IMO, is the subjectivity of these analogies- being perfumery a rather virgin territory, a shared code doesn't exist, yet, and almost everybody is entitled to affirm whatever they like.
    Well stated.

    6/18/13 at 2:20am

    gimmegreen said:



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Graphite View Post

     

    I was thinking of music, too. Music and cooking/haute cuisine. 

     


    It's a while since I delved in The Guide, but I seem to remember a few musical analogies there / and they didnīt seem out of place.

     

    I think, ultimately, the perfume critic is faced with describing the experience of the perfume the best way they can. Sure one can do that by going through its progression, talking of how well the composition is balanced or not, how the notes are realized. That's informative but a bit pedestrian. A good review aims for something more, and in striving for that, the colour of analogies, wit, and sympathetic (but extraneous) concepts can illuminate the writing. Of course one can also overbalance into pointless language for language's sake.

    6/18/13 at 2:31pm

    treeman5823 said:



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by gimmegreen View Post



    Of course one can also overbalance into pointless language for language's sake.

    Analogies certainly have a place; their entire purpose is to better illustrate an abstract thing. I think musical terms like "counterpoint," "symphonic," "brassy," etc. are apt crossover terms because they accurately describe what's going on in a perfume. But there is a line. When analogies start concealing more than they reveal, when they add an unnecessary layer of terminologies and imprecise parallels, then they have undermined their own purpose. Moral: use terms from whatever medium you like, so long as they don't conceal the thing being described.

    6/18/13 at 9:39pm

    iodine said:



    Totally agree with you, of course! I must admit I've never read anything, nor seen the exhibition, by Chandler Burr, so I can't judge his analogies. I guess it's anyway very common among critics of whatever form of art to have people who just seem to love the obscure, the arcane, the ermetic, while others are more legible. One can choose who to follow!
    I guess Luca Turin has a beautiful and very effective way to put analogies- I've just read an article from NZZ archive where he uses a Magritte to explain the concept of artificial... "Professional" it' s called in case you're interested. http://doublebasenotes.blogspot.it/2010/04/professional-by-luca-turin.html?m=1
    And i remember this same topic discussed some time ago on Grain de musc..
    Edited by iodine - 6/18/13 at 10:20pm





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