Cult – The Institute for Art and Olfaction

The IAO’s first experimental project was a transmedia collaboration around the concept of cultism, with filmmaker Mark Harris  and perfumer Josh Meyer.

__cult_hero2_250x300In November of 2012, Meyer and Harris began a process of discussion to create an olfactory element to the storyworld Harris developed around ‘The Lost Children.’ The collaboration revolved around the themes of cultism, brainwashing, obedience and initiation – concepts that Meyer then used to inform the construction of the IAO’s first scent.

The result of this olfactory experiment was an integral part of the transmedia campaign that Harris designed alongside his film, culminating in two live immersive experiences at The Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, in New York, in January of 2013.

The experiment also resulted in the publication of an edition of the scent. ‘Secret Editions No. 1: Cult, by Josh Meyer of Imaginary Authors‘, with an extremely limited run of twenty-four 15 mL bottles. The IAO provided 18 of these bottles to the participants in the experience, in the hopes that it would cement their new allegiance to ‘The Lost Children.’

From Mark Harris: “The scent [was] a big hit. One attendee commented repeatedly on how it added this weird, erotic tone to the event. Because the actors would pull you in really close and have you hold an amulet around their necks. And we sprayed some on the amulet. So it would come off on people’s hands. But when you are in this close, intimate moment with the actor, it’s just filling your nose. People were very aware. HUGE success. I cannot wait to incorporate this element in a future project.”

Read more about the experience here.

Josh_headshot_2_250x300About Josh Meyer

A discovery of niche perfumery sparked an unexpected passion, and Josh Meyer began his career as a perfumer in 2010. In his new laboratory in Portland Oregon, he spent countless hours researching, re-working, refining and perfecting his craft. He finally came up with seven formulations that were excellent, and launched his new fragrance house: Imaginary Authors. Imaginary Authors is born from the concept of scent as art and art as provocation. Like a good book, the scents are meant to inspire you, and each Imaginary Authors fragrance follows a compelling storyline peppered with intriguing twists.



mark_ifp_250x300About Mark Harris

Mark Harris is a filmmaker and software architect focused on the intersection of story and technology. Mark writes software for gameplay, storytelling, and Transmedia. Mark was a mentor at the first StoryCode StoryHack, and creative technologist on Lance Weiler’s Pandemic 1.0.

Mark is also an alumnus of the IFP Narrative Lab. Mark’s Transmedia project, THE LOST CHILDREN will have it’s New York City Premier in Jan 2013, with a feature film and live immersive experience. In the Fall of 2012, Mark is writing his first immersive play with Epic Theater Ensemble.

About the film

The Lost Children is a sci-fi thriller that tells the story of Evelyn Hamilton, a NYC socialite turned would-be messiah. Running from her troubled family, Evelyn joins The Lost Children cult, who believe they are aliens from another world, stranded on Earth and awaiting rescue by their mother ship. Evelyn’s family hires professional cult deprogrammer, Jared Allen Tyler, to extract her from the cult and to “un-brainwash” her. But soon everyone in the film questions what they know to be real as the cult’s beliefs all seem to come true.

Harris’ live immersive experience will test and identify audience members as Lost Children cult members at various levels. Some lucky few will be identified as Sleepwalkers, those who are “One of Us” without knowing it yet. These few will be initiated into the cult, in a secret ceremony that casts off their old selves, and unleashes the amazing beauty and power within.

filmsocThe IAO wishes to extend a special thank you to The Film Society of Lincoln Center for their visionary programming. America’s pre-eminent film presentation organization, The Film Society of Lincoln Center was founded to recognize and support new filmmakers, and to enhance awareness, accessibility and understanding of the art among a broad and diverse film going audience.