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  1. #31

    Default Re: Minimalist Compositions

    Quote Originally Posted by Darvant View Post
    Minimalism in perfumery to me just means ability to find out all the potentialities a single natural note can express and to put on its side a couple of different notes around that are able to root up and draw naturally out at best those potentialities of the previous note.
    This seems to form connections between the solinote and a more general, yet complex minimalist aesthetic in that it appears to privilege space in different ways. So perhaps that is the key that's worth exploring further? Less emphasis on the components themselves, and more of a focus on gaps?

    Is "wall of minimalism" possible?

  2. #32
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    Default Re: Minimalist Compositions

    Seems difficult to reconcile, at least for me. Perhaps a basic misunderstanding of the terms used. To be minimalist, but to do it with a large-ish number of notes seems contradictory at best, and wasteful at worst. That is if one seeks minimalism as a way of life, a search for efficiency. If minimalism is in the imagery of the scent, that it smells like one, or very few things, then that does not seem to add value in an any particular sense. Go and smell the thing, what is the allure of having that one idea on the skin? And if it takes more than that one thing to recreate the idea but not the presence, then what was the accomplishment?

    On the other hand, minimal ingredients involved does not really add any value to me, either. At that point it isn't an idea of protecting art, but just protecting copyright in what feelings are about purchase or existence of smell-alikes. This is where Helvetica doesn't bother me, at least no more than anything else. If Molecule 01 smells only of IES, yet is art for being so simple and reproducible, then Helvetica is really no different. It smells of nothing, and is a simple mix, but complexity and smell aren't the essence of the art. At least they don't seem to be if minimalism and reproducing or imitating a single odor are viable expressions.

    It seems minimalism requires some learning, some knowing, so the item itself is made insufficient. Is it more impressive to have a bottle of water, or a bottle of numerous aromachemicals that somehow smell of nothing? Or of a dilution of IES alone, or a grand blend that smells like IES alone? If they smell the same, then they have the same value, imo. To smell like laundry musks does not come across as very noteworthy, no offense to perfumers or fans. Minimalism isn't something of material value for me. Eh, maybe I shouldn't have replied since that's the case.

  3. #33

    Default Re: Minimalist Compositions

    Maricle,

    I wonder if the paradox of "a complex minimalism" should take into account aesthetic intent as well, though? If you think about Michael Fried's understanding of "Objecthood" in Tony Smith's Die—in which he imprints a slew of ramifications onto an otherwise minimal, yet tangible structure—perhaps we can understand complexity in something like Molecule 01 through its citing of perfume's history (IES's prominent role in the industry) combined its apparent lampooning of the sex-sells / consumption motif which, granted, is not dealing with the scent itself, but arguably renders the scent as oddly complex. Helvetica, to me, is attempting something along those lines (or perhaps something closer to Yves Klein's "conceptual painting" [the painting never existed; what you "bought" was the possibility]) but with none of sensitivity or integrity. It's simply capitalizing on a font that was, itself, rendered pastiche through its dissemination.

    But what I'm still trying to get at is the way something like Odeur 73 can contain 73 components and yet feel extremely restrained? For me, that's dexterity of the blend—not in the sense that the perfumer imposed perimeters on the construction ("I'm going to see how many ingredients I can use and still make it smell like nothing"), rather in the way that space and breathing room can be incorporated as a key ingredient in the formula as well.

    As far as not responding because minimalism doesn't have any value to you, I disagree — I'm glad you did respond. I think it underscores what's at the root of this discussion—subjective preference, which is where the thread began. I guess my point (and reason for firing the thread up) is that I find there's a time and place for stripped down compositions, and it's somewhat interesting to discern how such times and places revolve and evolve.

  4. #34
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    Default Re: Minimalist Compositions

    ^ I certainly haven't given minimalism and transparency this much thought in many moons. Quite glad for the opportunity. Lots of great ideas and thoughts from all of you as well. It's making my Eau Première even better than usual.
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  5. #35
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    Default Re: Minimalist Compositions

    What a great thread. I've really enjoyed reading all of the contributions and as I feel many of my favorite scents fall under these ideas of minimalism - both complex and simple, it is giving me some new perspectives.

    I really enjoy the simple minimalism where the perfumer exhibits his/her skills by what (s)he subtracts and the use of negative space in a sense to really make simple themes/notes/accords stand out, and this is what I had usually thought of with respect to minimalism in fragrance, but deadidol, you are definitely right that there is an art of machieving minimalism through the use of many ingredients and subtle complexity.

    Red's posts definitely make me think of the aesthetic of the tea ceremony, and I think that is a perfect example of what is actually great complexity coming together to provide an almost meditative experience of great simplicity and the Japanese aesthetic ideal of wabi.
    When studying the tea ceremony, my teacher claimed that it was the culmination of all Japanese arts. I don't know whether I'd go that far, but it features traditional architecture in the tea room (itself a study of minimalism, wabi and sabi), ikebana in the simple flower arrangements used, incense, pottery, textiles, metalwork, zen, horticulture, cuisine, etc. There are actually so many elements that go into creating that simple meditative experience. Even the aesthetics of the arrangement of the charcoal and mix of shapes and sizes of charcoal used to heat the water play a part. These often unseen elements all playing a role in allowing you to experience minimalism and simplicity. I'm not saying that it is necessarily a uniquely Japanese thing, but I think it is a good example of how many elements can combine to create a sense of minimalism.

  6. #36
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    Default Re: Minimalist Compositions

    Quote Originally Posted by Darjeeling View Post
    What a great thread. I've really enjoyed reading all of the contributions and as I feel many of my favorite scents fall under these ideas of minimalism - both complex and simple, it is giving me some new perspectives.

    I really enjoy the simple minimalism where the perfumer exhibits his/her skills by what (s)he subtracts and the use of negative space in a sense to really make simple themes/notes/accords stand out, and this is what I had usually thought of with respect to minimalism in fragrance, but deadidol, you are definitely right that there is an art of machieving minimalism through the use of many ingredients and subtle complexity.

    Red's posts definitely make me think of the aesthetic of the tea ceremony, and I think that is a perfect example of what is actually great complexity coming together to provide an almost meditative experience of great simplicity and the Japanese aesthetic ideal of wabi.
    When studying the tea ceremony, my teacher claimed that it was the culmination of all Japanese arts. I don't know whether I'd go that far, but it features traditional architecture in the tea room (itself a study of minimalism, wabi and sabi), ikebana in the simple flower arrangements used, incense, pottery, textiles, metalwork, zen, horticulture, cuisine, etc. There are actually so many elements that go into creating that simple meditative experience. Even the aesthetics of the arrangement of the charcoal and mix of shapes and sizes of charcoal used to heat the water play a part. These often unseen elements all playing a role in allowing you to experience minimalism and simplicity. I'm not saying that it is necessarily a uniquely Japanese thing, but I think it is a good example of how many elements can combine to create a sense of minimalism.
    Tea ceremony is definitely fascinating, and a great example of the sort of studied internal complexity that I think good minimalism is all about. It's a way to deeply manage a limited but still sizable number of details, rather than loosely managing a larger number of details by selectively ignoring most. People are always surprised at the depth and number of small details that are consciously chosen. Even the room, as you say, is a science in itself. One of my wife's friends teaches tea ceremony in her non-work life. Her husband built her a tea room - and the list of surprising details that were sweated seemed far more interesting than the room itself.

    Honestly, though, after a while, it is very easy to "get" the Japanese concept of beauty, and just go with it, despite the initial oddity of some aspects. While it may lead to things on the edge like Hello Kitty and voluptuous schoolgirls with crosses and bazookas, the stuff at the core has qualities that beg for preservation of the whole, once they click.

    Speaking of which art, I just remembered that I need to make an announcement for our alpha Japanophile, Chandler!!! Must vamoose. But it has indeed been a great discussion!
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  7. #37

    Default Re: Minimalist Compositions

    Quote Originally Posted by Darjeeling View Post
    Red's posts definitely make me think of the aesthetic of the tea ceremony, and I think that is a perfect example of what is actually great complexity coming together to provide an almost meditative experience of great simplicity and the Japanese aesthetic ideal of wabi.
    When studying the tea ceremony, my teacher claimed that it was the culmination of all Japanese arts. I don't know whether I'd go that far, but it features traditional architecture in the tea room (itself a study of minimalism, wabi and sabi), ikebana in the simple flower arrangements used, incense, pottery, textiles, metalwork, zen, horticulture, cuisine, etc. There are actually so many elements that go into creating that simple meditative experience. Even the aesthetics of the arrangement of the charcoal and mix of shapes and sizes of charcoal used to heat the water play a part. These often unseen elements all playing a role in allowing you to experience minimalism and simplicity. I'm not saying that it is necessarily a uniquely Japanese thing, but I think it is a good example of how many elements can combine to create a sense of minimalism.

    I think this is a very similar idea, and as it came up in the discussion earlier, minimalism and the Japanese arts are somewhat indivisible. It's especially noticeable in CdG's scents, but also in Rei Kawakubo's incredible style. The kind of measured calculations and the sense of balance that comes through such ceremonies as what you described, Darjeeling, seems critical to the way minimalism is articulated. But of course that opens up another question pertaining to the control of formal and technical choices: is there room for an organic experience within such scents, or is the composition so meticulously managed by the perfumer that experience is restricted? It seems to me that it would be dependent on the wearer's own response, but how might a pristine composition beget a different wearing to something that's perhaps more shifting and mercurial?


    Also, throughout the day, I've been thinking a little about Narciso Rodriguez for Men, which is very limited in its notes (just four, I believe), but the notes that it uses are quite multi-faceted. My experience with a scent like that is that it's fairly consistent in what it accomplishes, but it has density and texture that keep it from being truly minimalist. On the other hand, there's Le Labo's Labdanum 18 which, to me, doesn't represent anything close to 18 components (just a handful of dry musks) in the same manner that the Odeurs are more complexly structured, but in granular detail.

  8. #38

    Default Re: Minimalist Compositions

    Quote Originally Posted by deadidol View Post
    I'm not so sure that's true, Kaern, especially given the kind of complexity that goes into something like Odeur 71 (71 components)! Isn't that a bit like the "my child could paint a Pollack" approach? I think there are very calculated decisions that need to be made with minimalism in all the arts (olfaction included) that go beyond a simple "just put one thing in it."

    I mean, clearly something like Molecule 01 is doing something very dodgy by attaching a BS pheromone myth to Iso E Super, but part of me isn't as angry about what they did as I feel I should be. Yes, anyone could make that (I have), and yes, it's stringing people along, but the artistic choice to feature such a key industry component in this manner was (somewhat?) brilliant—even if the scammy part is unavoidable.

    I find minimalism to be much more than something anyone could do.
    It's Pollock. And a lot of his work is quite structured and formulated if you look closely, so no, I wouldn't expect a child to replicate.

    The point I was trying to get across, was that minimalism imo is peculiarly unsuited to fragrances.

    RP''s example from Helvetica is laughable unless it was viewed as a work of art only. It sort of enhances my point about anyone doing it though -- physically anyway.The idea behind it though and Molecule 01 -- that's different and I tend to agree with you there.

  9. #39

    Default Re: Minimalist Compositions

    Quartz by Molyneux is one of my favorite minimalistic scents. One of the few fragrances I perceive as linear, highly simplified, clean, almost mineral (not just because of the name), almost neutral, yet at the same time incredibly well-made.

  10. #40
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    Default Re: Minimalist Compositions

    Interesting discussions. It got me questioning if a minimalist fragrance composition is always perceived as minimalist (in terms of presentation) especially considering how complex or multi-faceted a single component can be. Or that a complex composition may be experienced as minimalist due to the 'focus and restraint' imposed by the perfumer on the myriad components used in composing the fragrance. Pure oud oil with it's evolving and mutltifaceted olfactory profile can never be accepted as a minimalist fragrance even if it has the bare minimum number of components. But a complex composition with hundreds of components to showcase a single note or accord in a transparent and linear way can easily pass for a minimalist fragrance. Am I making sense here? Lol.

    My own favorite minimalist fragrances include the likes of Bulgari Pour Homme, MFK Aqua Universalis and Creed Original Vetiver. But I'll add Tom Ford Tuscan Leather to this list for its linear approach and singular focus.
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  11. #41

    Default Re: Minimalist Compositions

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaern View Post
    It's Pollock. And a lot of his work is quite structured and formulated if you look closely, so no, I wouldn't expect a child to replicate.

    The point I was trying to get across, was that minimalism imo is peculiarly unsuited to fragrances.
    Gah! Kicking myself over the typo!

    I see your point now about minimalism not being well-suited for fragrance, but I think I'm more inclined to say it's well suited—not from a business perspective, perhaps, but from the perspective of a connoisseur who enjoys a break from heavy scents now and again, or a study of a single note perhaps. From the angle of artistic intention, it's so hard to tell where sincerity sits in an industry that's largely ventriloquized by capital.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Diamondflame View Post
    Interesting discussions. It got me questioning if a minimalist fragrance composition is always perceived as minimalist (in terms of presentation) especially considering how complex or multi-faceted a single component can be. Or that a complex composition may be experienced as minimalist due to the 'focus and restraint' imposed by the perfumer on the myriad components used in composing the fragrance. Pure oud oil with it's evolving and mutltifaceted olfactory profile can never be accepted as a minimalist fragrance even if it has the bare minimum number of components. But a complex composition with hundreds of components to showcase a single note or accord in a transparent and linear way can easily pass for a minimalist fragrance.

    My favorite minimalist fragrances include Bulgari Pour Homme and Creed Original Vetiver. But I'll add Tom Ford Tuscan Leather to this list for its linear approach and singular focus.
    I think this sums up some of the concerns about definition, Diamondflame, especially given that you approach Tuscan Leather as minimalist in its linearity. I wonder if this is where the solifore designation breaks away from minimal in that it is indeed a focused scent, but it doesn't get much more oppressive and heavy than that one!
    Last edited by deadidol; 29th November 2013 at 05:15 PM.

  12. #42
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    Default Re: Minimalist Compositions

    Quote Originally Posted by deadidol View Post


    Quote Originally Posted by Kaern View Post
    The point I was trying to get across, was that minimalism imo is peculiarly unsuited to fragrances.
    Which actually is a really good point. The fine-grained control that our visual sense has over the product of the spatial dimensions, or the variation of the auditory in time, allow minimalism to still carry a lot of information without loss of perception. Fragrance is a toughie, and I think that makes it a lot easier to be a trivial minimalist than a talented one in perfumery.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken_Russell View Post
    Quartz by Molyneux is one of my favorite minimalistic scents. One of the few fragrances I perceive as linear, highly simplified, clean, almost mineral (not just because of the name), almost neutral, yet at the same time incredibly well-made.
    Thanks for this recommendation! I have been tempted by this one, just from the name. Now I have a reason to go for it. I love quartz (the regular kind)!

    Quote Originally Posted by Diamondflame View Post
    Interesting discussions. It got me questioning if a minimalist fragrance composition is always perceived as minimalist (in terms of presentation) especially considering how complex or multi-faceted a single component can be. Or that a complex composition may be experienced as minimalist due to the 'focus and restraint' imposed by the perfumer on the myriad components used in composing the fragrance. Pure oud oil with it's evolving and mutltifaceted olfactory profile can never be accepted as a minimalist fragrance even if it has the bare minimum number of components. But a complex composition with hundreds of components to showcase a single note or accord in a transparent and linear way can easily pass for a minimalist fragrance. Am I making sense here? Lol.

    My own favorite minimalist fragrances include the likes of Bulgari Pour Homme, MFK Aqua Universalis and Creed Original Vetiver. But I'll add Tom Ford Tuscan Leather to this list for its linear approach and singular focus.
    Great points. How one defines minimalism makes a lot of difference here. For example, consider natural perfumery, where people are all using natural components as a constraining rule of the art. Some of the perfumers gravitate toward things that appear very simple, and others toward very complex combinations of complex components. Can minimalism transcend the absolute number of substances, at the molecular level? If large-scale structure counts as something which can be minimized, then the answer has to be yes, IMO.

    Quote Originally Posted by deadidol View Post
    From the angle of artistic intention, it's so hard to tell where sincerity sits in an industry that's largely ventriloquized by capital.
    Somebody frame this quote!!!
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  13. #43
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    Default Re: Minimalist Compositions

    Quote Originally Posted by Redneck Perfumisto View Post
    Which actually is a really good point. The fine-grained control that our visual sense has over the product of the spatial dimensions, or the variation of the auditory in time, allow minimalism to still carry a lot of information without loss of perception. Fragrance is a toughie, and I think that makes it a lot easier to be a trivial minimalist than a talented one in perfumery.
    Seems silly to say, but I sometimes wonder what a bear would think of perfume, since their sense of smell is about 2,000 times better than a human. Very little in the world would smell of minimalism then. And elephants might quite like Helvetica, since they can smell water up to 12 miles away. Our fascination with fragrance might be similar to a mole's interest in viewing oil paintings. But then any indulgence in texture and feel we have would pale compared to the 100,000 nerve endings in the star shaped organ around their nose.

  14. #44

    Default Re: Minimalist Compositions

    This discussion is interesting. I'll leave all the highbrow analysis to those who know what they are talking about.

    Isabelle Doyen's L'Antimatiere must be a contender. I've had a couple of samples of this. It's certainly minimalist. I can hardly smell it. It is there though.

    Re: Molecule 01, I don't think that Luca Turin is saying that the fragrance is a composition. He is saying that the aromachemical Iso E Super is a compound material. Molecule 01 is just made with this one note/material. I wish they would drop this "blends with your pheromones" nonsense.

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    Default Re: Minimalist Compositions

    Quote Originally Posted by Foustie View Post

    Isabelle Doyen's L'Antimatiere must be a contender. I've had a couple of samples of this. It's certainly minimalist. I can hardly smell it. It is there though.
    Great call Foustie. This is definitely a contender. I'm not paticularly fond of this fragrance but if one's into minimalism, this is definitely something to experience.

    Re: Molecule 01, I don't think that Luca Turin is saying that the fragrance is a composition. He is saying that the aromachemical Iso E Super is a compound material. Molecule 01 is just made with this one note/material. I wish they would drop this "blends with your pheromones" nonsense.
    I think you're right. I dug that review and it actually says...

    "...Helmut Lang had already been there with the pleasantly straightforward Velviona, using Givaudan's exceptionally wonderful and quite cheap macrocyclic Velvione musk. Velviona was more truly monomolecular, whereas Iso E Super is a complex mixture of isomers. In other words, Molecule 01 is a composition, which sort of defeats the object of the exercise."


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  16. #46
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    Default Re: Minimalist Compositions

    Quote Originally Posted by maricle View Post
    Seems silly to say, but I sometimes wonder what a bear would think of perfume, since their sense of smell is about 2,000 times better than a human. Very little in the world would smell of minimalism then. And elephants might quite like Helvetica, since they can smell water up to 12 miles away. Our fascination with fragrance might be similar to a mole's interest in viewing oil paintings. But then any indulgence in texture and feel we have would pale compared to the 100,000 nerve endings in the star shaped organ around their nose.
    YES. Excellent points. Minimalism is clearly relative. Which is really, really fascinating.

    Quote Originally Posted by Foustie View Post
    This discussion is interesting. I'll leave all the highbrow analysis to those who know what they are talking about.

    Isabelle Doyen's L'Antimatiere must be a contender. I've had a couple of samples of this. It's certainly minimalist. I can hardly smell it. It is there though.

    Re: Molecule 01, I don't think that Luca Turin is saying that the fragrance is a composition. He is saying that the aromachemical Iso E Super is a compound material. Molecule 01 is just made with this one note/material. I wish they would drop this "blends with your pheromones" nonsense.
    I need to experience L'Antimatiere - it has finally piqued my curiosity!

    Quote Originally Posted by alfarom View Post
    Great call Foustie. This is definitely a contender. I'm not paticularly fond of this fragrance but if one's into minimalism, this is definitely something to experience.

    I think you're right. I dug that review and it actually says...

    "...Helmut Lang had already been there with the pleasantly straightforward Velviona, using Givaudan's exceptionally wonderful and quite cheap macrocyclic Velvione musk. Velviona was more truly monomolecular, whereas Iso E Super is a complex mixture of isomers. In other words, Molecule 01 is a composition, which sort of defeats the object of the exercise."
    Isomerism has always been a thorn in the side of chemists. It's incredibly annoying - separating isomers is very easy for professors to ask, and a horrible pain for graduate students to carry out. I think that makes me very forgiving of this fact in Iso E Super.

    It also makes me wonder - if most people don't even understand what's going on in the fragrance, are molecular counts even a valid concern of minimalism? Definitely weirding me out. [But I did just learn a bunch of interesting stuff about Iso E Super, which I'm going to put into another thread, because it's too OT to this one.]
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  17. #47

    Default Re: Minimalist Compositions

    Quote Originally Posted by Redneck Perfumisto View Post
    YESIt also makes me wonder - if most people don't even understand what's going on in the fragrance, are molecular counts even a valid concern of minimalism? Definitely weirding me out. [But I did just learn a bunch of interesting stuff about Iso E Super, which I'm going to put into another thread, because it's too OT to this one.]
    I'll be watching for that one, Red.

    I actually like Molecule 01 (although I knock together my own), but it's true that it does feel a little more complex when you zero in on it. So this is fascinating to hear about isomers and how it's busier than it seems. On skin, it does feel quite layered—several possible wood and musk facets merging together. I wonder if Molecule 02 is the same as that feels even more like a complete scent than Molecule 01 (02 is straight ambroxan). It complicates the minimal aesthetic, but once more, in a different way.

    I think we're going to either need a recap or a diagram here soon!

    And thanks for the L'Antimatiere tip, Foustie! I'll be looking into this one soon.

    Incidentally, I just got to smell a material from a friend—a musk (natural, sadly, and hopefully somewhat humanely sourced )—that smelled, I kid you not, like a complete composition with incredible development, texture, and a ton of facets. It would be wearable as is as a scent, but even as a single component, I'm not sure I'd consider it minimal. Consequently, I feel like I'm moving away from the solinote as minimalist and more toward the intentionally minimalist composition (no matter how complex) as the paradigm.

  18. #48
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    Default Re: Minimalist Compositions

    Quote Originally Posted by deadidol View Post
    ... I feel like I'm moving away from the solinote as minimalist and more toward the intentionally minimalist composition (no matter how complex) as the paradigm.
    I agree - and for totally different reasons. As I was graphically doctoring one of the structures in the other thread (whiting out some stuff and drawing back in a bond - I stole it from a much busier reaction diagram), I realized that perfumers can do the same thing - basically dropping differently colored circles on top of each other, until the desired form takes shape. And after having smelled a floral absolute (horribly complex) that a perfumer turned back into the smell of the flower (very clear and transparent), I realize that it probably takes a lot of work to minimize, particularly if it includes hiding stuff, or creating illusions of transparency / clarity / absence.
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  19. #49

    Default Re: Minimalist Compositions

    I'll say it again- thanks guys for the high level of discussion. This thread has given me a great deal of nutrients for my thoughts.

    I love the apparently effortless semplicity that comes as a result of thorough exploration, deep elaboration, wise and personal choice- like haikus, certain instrumental performances (Andràs Schiff playing Bach comes to my mind) or even certain dishes by renown chefs (Olivier Roellinger for one, and his work on spices).
    Perfumewise, I couldn't say for sure what fragrance gives me such a sensation... I dare say that no one up to now has done it, or at least not in a "minimalistic" way.
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  20. #50

    Default Minimalist Compositions

    Quote Originally Posted by iodine View Post
    (Andràs Schiff playing Bach comes to my mind) or even certain dishes by renown chefs (Olivier Roellinger for one, and his work on spices).
    I think these are great comparisons to make, and they speak to a concern I raised earlier about organic / dynamic vs static experiences. Arguably, Schiff and Roellinger demonstrate absolute control over their respective crafts; every aspect of the experience is intricately managed by them, which, arguably, is part of their genius. Would this be the case in a minimalist perfume composition? Is there a restriction of experience on the part of the wearer due to the absolute management of experience at the hands of the perfumer? I wonder if variations of subjective response are even possible in something like Odeur 53, or if they're so intimately choreographed that the lack of variation available can be understood as the primary generator of the minimal aesthetic? If that's the case, then surely the wearer is complicit in imprinting the subjective experience onto the objective, minimal surface of the perfume. Therefore, a minimal perfume functions as an empty page upon which the wearer can write the scent's narrative, whereas a complex, maximalist scent writes on the wearer herself?

    In other words: The minimalist perfumer exercises such absolute, total control over the creation in order to (essentially) relinquish control as a means by which to charge the wearer with the task of writing meaning into the creation.

    So, minimalist perfume might be understood as one that necessitates a more active, engaged wearer than a passive one?
    Last edited by deadidol; 30th November 2013 at 11:02 AM.

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