Open House: A Trip to Japan at the Hammer Museum

"A Trip to Japan in 16 Minutes, Revisited" | Photo by Bennett Barbakow, courtesy of Hammer Museum, Facebook

In 1902, the German Japanese poet, artist, and critic Sadakichi Hartmann, aka the “king of bohemians,” presented a concert at the New York Theatre that promised to suspend space and time and take the audience on a trip to Japan via their sense of smell. The highly anticipated “scent concert” was part of a lineup that featured burlesque and comedy performed in a smoky, boisterous room. Unable to deliver on his “olfactory voyage from New York to Japan,” Hartmann ended the concert mid-performance, much to the displeasure of the audience. Hartmann never attempted the performance again.

Picking up where Hartmann left off, the Los Angeles–based Institute for Art and Olfaction is presenting a modern interpretation of the scent concert, A Trip to Japan in 16 Minutes, Revisited at the Hammer Museum in Westwood. Revisited consists of six segments, each accompanied by an original scent composition made by perfumer Sherri Sebastian. The scents will be released into the room in time to an original soundtrack and live Foley elements. Participants will be blindfolded so that they can enjoy an immersive olfactory experience that takes them from modern-day Los Angeles to Tokyo.

A Trip to Japan in 16 minutes, Revisited sold out quickly but you can learn about the program at Open House: A Trip to Japan taking place from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 7. Guests are invited to walk through the set of the performance and chat with the collaborators who made the program possible. Visitors can see the one-of-a-kind scent propagation device, smell the contemporary scents developed to evoke Japan, and listen to the audio soundscape. Like all public programs at the Hammer, Open House: A Trip to Japan is a free event. Parking under the museum is $3 for three hours.