Multiplex is an olfactory installation. From a cut cleanly circular hole through a dividing wall, two scents emanate. The two scents share a chemical compound yet are fundamentally different. While one derives from tiger marking fluid, the other has an aroma reminiscent of the scent of an empty movie theater—it contains notes of dust, velvet, sweat, plastic, candy as well as pop-corn The shared component is 2-acetyl 1-pyrroline (2AP), an aroma compound and flavor that gives, for example, freshly baked bread, jasmine and basmati rice their characteristic scent. At the same time, it is found in fresh marking fluid and urine of tigers (Indian, Amur or Siberian) and Indian leopards.
The two scents are variously diffused and thus experienced differently: while the scent associated with movie theaters is diffused wider and continuously, the one associated with animal markings has a narrower range, in order to recreate the passage of a tiger. This difference suggests a distinction between territory and a more generalized sense of space, between the realm of animals and a cultural space.
Multiplex draws on the archaic power of olfactory perception, and on the encoding of information either altogether beyond human perception or outside of conscious knowledge. One aspect is the concept of involuntary memory, a scent associated with a place or experience, exemplified by the famous literary motive in Marcel Proust’s Rembrance of Things Past. The protagonist experiences a surge of emotions associated with childhood memories provokes by the taste of a Madeleine cake dipped into tea.
At the same time, Multiplex reinforces the notion of art works that are appearing and disappearing, a major theme of Etienne Chambaud's exhibition at the gallery, Inexistence.