AUGUST 14TH, 2015
Silver City, New Mexico
Peter Bill – Time lapse film
Stephen Dirkes – Fragrance accords


The Landscape Of The Gila – Group Exhibition
In conjunction with the Gila Time-lapse Film Festival & the Gila River Festival
At McCray Gallery at WNMU, Silver City, New Mexico
Exhibition dates: August 27 – September 27, 2015


Multi media installation running time ~30 seconds.
3 video screens
3 looping BluRay disks
3 wide angle peepholes
3 fragrance accords
3 fragrance infused felt pads


TABLEAUX OLFACTIF – GILA CYCLE was a multi media installation created to capture an essence of three seasonal stages of the Gila River. The installation consists of three video screens, hidden behind a false wall, on which has been painted a Gila Landscape in grey. The observer sees the flicker of the video through the spy hole that has been built into it. As s/he moves in to view each video their nose is brought in proximity to three different scents, or accords to match each of the three time lapse films: Water and Earth, Verdant Earth and Scorched Earth.


Fragrance Notes: Stephen Dirkes
I created fragrance accords to connect one to the landscape of the Gila River in an immersive way. After visiting the region several times and collecting fragrant materials, film and notes of the landscape. I built up a library of scents that could be found in the Gila area presented in each of Peter Bill’s three looping time-lapse films. Peter Bill and I have been multi-media collaborators, exhibiting around the globe since first meeting when we both lived in Prague, Czech Republic in the late 90’s.


Although inspired by the region, I was not attempting to create a “photo realistic” scent to capture the local in the associated time-lapse film. Similarly to how music functions in cinema, delivering the “emotional content” to the image, scent can be used in a more narrative storytelling way. Olfaction involves primal, powerful mnemonic associations. In each of the three accords, I wanted to feature a few single notes that I felt had some strong emotional impact to bring the viewer/smeller as quickly as possible into the world of the landscape projected.


As time-lapse film can be a means to compress or dislocate time that can effectively reveal transitions that take place over a long period of time, I wanted to build accords that would be informed by perfumery techniques and impart a durational structure to the fragrances in a much more compressed time frame. Expecting an average 30 second viewer interaction, I worked in terms of the smeller’s cognition of fragrance notes (what notes do you perceive first? what is a 30 second sequence of perception?) and a notion of accord density more than a traditional pyramid of durational values. Presented with a clusters of notes, a sense of duration or scent journey is created more by the decision making process of breaking down the cluster to recognize elements more than materials in the accord fading away over time.

An aleatory influence seemed to be an important aspect in the slow moving, changing natural landscape and I wanted to recognize that conceptually in the final creation of a GILA fragrance made from the three scents used in the gallery installation. At the closing of the exhibition, the three fragrance accords were auctioned off and the proceeds were donated to the Gila Conservation Coalition. The winner of the auction was sent the three separate accords with an empty, labelled 15ml apothecary bottle and encouraged to explore creating a blend of the fragrances. Like the exclusivity of site specific experience and the temporal nature of a limited duration gallery exhibition or live performance in which only visitors to the show in New Mexico could experience the scents, only the winner of the GILA auction could determine/ experience the final blend of GILA fragrance.




An accord featuring aquatic, mineral, “Petricor” wet earth and ozonic/ after the rain notes. A spacious and spare blend of notes to capture the atmosphere of the landscape in this phase in the more ephemeral aspects of quality of light, wind and temperature.


An accord featuring herb, floral, leaf, stem, root, moss and earth notes. A dense grouping of many facets of a “green”/ herbaceous fragrance with a focus on grasses, artemisia and conifers found in the Gila river region. Note density to reflect the vegetal abundance and sense of the landscape “teaming with life”.


An accord featuring burned wood, hay, peat and musty dry earth. A flat, linear composition of aggressive phenolic and earthy notes. A finality in the lack of transition and simplicity of the accord resonant of the finality of destruction. A small amount of vegetal/ root notes are utilized to imply a potential for rebirth/ regrow.

gila cycle from peter bill on Vimeo.

Time Lapse Film maker: Peter Bill
The three time lapses from Gila are from the Gila watershed. The “Scorched Earth” time lapse was shot high in the Mogollon, looking down onto the Gila Watershed, from the midst of what was called the Whitewater fire.  Peter’s photography attempts to connect the viewer with different time scales, so one may understand the world from a more long term perspective. The “Verdant Earth” time lapse was filmed over a 6 month period from his window looking down on Mangas Springs. 


The Gila River is the last un-dammed high desert river. Its source in the Gila Wilderness, is part of what was designated the Aldo Leopold wilderness area, the first such area in the world. A recent proposal to divert water from the Gila threatens the entire ecosystem. 


TABLEAUX OLFACTIF – GILA CYCLE was created for the GILA RIVER FESTIVAL to promote an awareness of, a personal connection to and advocacy for the protection of the Gila river region. Proceeds of GILA fragrance auction were donated to the GILA CONSERVATION COALITION.

Gila River Festival 2015 from peter bill on Vimeo.

GILA fragrance and the accords used in conjunction with this project have not been commercially sold or publicly released outside of the exhibition TABLEAUX OLFACTIF – GILA CYCLE.