I am the ______. – The Institute for Art and Olfaction

I am the ______.
by Joe Merrell
Jan. 5 – 31, 2017
Opening Reception: January 6, 7 pm to 9 pm
Visiting hours + programming to be announced



I am the _____. marks the Institute for Art and Olfaction’s second project with artist Joe Merrell. The exhibition features animation, 3d projection, print, sculpture, as well as two custom scents created in collaboration with the IOA.

Inspired and informed by readings in environmental philosophy, 19th-century science fiction (e.g. Journey to the Center of the Earth, Etidhorpa), and legends of the Algonquian windigo, Merrell’s work explores the notion of the natural, physical world as a metaphorical map of human consciousness.

In the animated video Prisoner’s Cinema, Merrell alternates between hallucinatory abstraction and symbolic illustrations of the windigo mythos, drawing from later native depictions of the creature as a western man ushering death and destruction via Christianity and capitalism. A small forest diorama, Beware the Windigo, includes a scent component designed to evoke the primal, visceral aspects of wilderness.

A series of works based on fragments of a nonexistent hollow earth narrative are installed in the darkened side gallery — including prints, an animated phantogram video (a 3D stereoscopic video resembling a vivid hologram), as well as specially-scented phosphorescent “fruit” from the center of the earth.



JoeMerrell_ImageWEBJoe Merrell was born in Seattle and grew up in Olympia, Washington. He earned a B.A. in history, literature, and philosophy from The Evergreen State College in Olympia and an M.F.A. in film from CalArts in Valencia. Based in Los Angeles, he works in a variety of mediums including video, print, stereoscopy, sculpture, and computer-generated animation.