Artwork titled “One Tree ID - How To Become A Tree For Another Tree” condenses the identity of a specific tree into a complex perfume that can be experienced by visitors in order to apprehend the tree’s communication system at a biochemical level. By applying it, a person can invisibly wear not just characteristics of the tree, but could potentially have a conversation with the tree.

The artist aims at creating empathy and exploring the way we use our senses to generate interactions between species. Like humans, trees and plants also have their individual odour. One Tree ID’s perfumes offer alternative ways of information exchange with the plant kingdom upon which we depend.

Plants emit and communicate via Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) that contribute to cloud formation and which we recognize as the fragrance of a forest. Each tree generates its own cloud. The roots and its bacteria, the tree stem and needles emit different VOCs. For creating the perfumes the artist collaborated with the scientists and a perfumer. To smell the tree, they compared the collected machine data and nose data to result in the “Cloud of the Roots,” “Cloud of the Tree Stem,” and “Cloud of the Tree Crown” which then lead to the synthesis of a One Tree ID perfume.

“One Tree ID – Betula pubescens” was realized in collaboration with Manuel Selg, molecular biologist and Marc vom Ende, Senior Perfumer (Symrise).

Supported by:
European Capital of Culture Tartu 2024, Cultural Endowment of Estonia

Agnes Meyer-Brandis is a Berlin based artist with a background in sculpture and new media. She creates works on the fringes of science, fiction and fabulation. Educated first in mineralogy, followed by studies at the art academies in Maastricht, Düsseldorf and Cologne, she has founded the Research Raft, a fictitious Institute for Art & Subjective Science that purposefully ‘is asking questions but gives no answers’ in fields such as climate research, environmental studies, meteorology, as well as synthetic and artistic biology. Meyer-Brandis’ work has been exhibited worldwide and awarded with many prizes, including two Prix Ars Electronica Awards of Distinction & the European Kairos prize.

Agnes Meyer-Brandis webpage
“One tree ID” webpage

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Photo by Agnes Meyer-Brandis