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Artwork: 2666 by Anicka Yi, 2015. Photo: Philipp Hänger. Courtesy of the Guggenheim Museum.
Artwork: 2666 by Anicka Yi, 2015. Photo: Philipp Hänger. Courtesy of the Guggenheim Museum.

Meet the Artist Who Makes Smelly Art from Sweat and Bacteria

Artwork: 2666 by Anicka Yi, 2015. Photo: Philipp Hänger. Courtesy of the Guggenheim Museum.
Artwork: 2666 by Anicka Yi, 2015. Photo: Philipp Hänger. Courtesy of the Guggenheim Museum.

Anicka Yi creates art that’s meant to be seen and smelled. WIRED recently profiled the New York-based conceptual artist, whose installations have featured odiferous materials like olive oil, moss, black tea, dried shrimp, and even bacteria samples taken from her circle of friends and acquaintances. Yi uses these scents to elicit memories or emotions. And the artist’s first major U.S. museum show, which opens April 21 at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, may be her smelliest yet.

Yi was recently awarded the 2016 Hugo Boss Prize, a prestigious biennial award for contemporary art granted by the Guggenheim, which includes a solo show at the museum. Yi’s upcoming exhibition, called “Anicka Yi, Life Is Cheap,” features pieces inspired by sweaty armpits, among other works. She teamed up with scientists to make scents based on the chemical compounds of human sweat; they waft alongside sculptures made from live bacteria.

Yi collects the sweat and bacteria samples herself. Biologists cultivate the bacteria by feeding it nutrients, and maintaining optimal growth temperatures. Once her “living sculptures” are grown, Yi displays them in petri dish-inspired cases made from plexiglass and resin. As for the artist’s "Eau de Armpit," a forensic scientist uses chromatography to break each sweat sample down into chemical compounds. Then, Yi collaborates with a Paris-based perfumer to turn the compounds into scents.

In addition to artworks that conjure up images of sweaty human bodies, Yi’s upcoming Guggenheim exhibition will also feature pieces made from tempura-fried flowers and a 3D video called The Flavor Genome, which touches on motifs in Yi’s work, including “scent, both natural and artificial, the bacterial, perishability, hybridization, mutation, and genetic modification, as well as the bureaucratization of the body,” as writer Chris Sharpe explains for Cura magazine [PDF].

And keeping with the theme, most of these works can be experienced with the eyes and the nose. "The primacy of sight and vision over all of the other senses doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me," Yi explains in a video produced by the Guggenheim Museum. "I was not only trying to critique it but also trying to offer different alternatives, and I think we could learn a lot more from tapping into our other senses and cultivating our other senses."

You can view some of Yi's works below, but if you want to smell them, you'll have to swing by the Guggenheim before her exhibition ends on July 5, 2017.

Anicka Yi
2666, 2015
Bacteria, nutrient agar, Plexiglas, 24 x 20 x 4 inches
Courtesy of 47 Canal, New York and Kunsthalle Basel
Photo: Philipp Hänger

Anicka Yi
Sister, 2011
Tempura fried flowers, cotton turtleneck, approximately 41 x 19 x 7 in
Courtesy of 47 Canal, New York
Photo: Joerg Lohse

Anicka Yi
Installation view: 7,070,430K of Digital Spit, Kunsthalle Basel, Basel, 2015
Courtesy 47 Canal, New York, and Kunsthalle Basel, Basel
Photo: Philipp Hänger

Anicka Yi
The Possibility of an Island III, 2012
Custom glass perfume bottle, saline water, colored contact lenses, vinyl tubing, air pump, 132.08 x 35.56 x 35.56 cm
Courtesy of 47 Canal, New York.
Photo: Joerg Lohse

Anicka Yi
Installation view: Jungle Stripe, Fridericianum, Kasse, 2016
Image courtesy of the artist, 47 Canal, New York, and Fridericianum, Kassel.
Photo: Fabian Frinzel
Anicka Yi
Installation view: Jungle Stripe, Fridericianum, Kasse, 2016
Image courtesy of the artist, 47 Canal, New York, and Fridericianum, Kassel.
Photo: Fabian Frinzel
Anicka Yi
Installation view: Jungle Stripe, Fridericianum, Kasse, 2016
Image courtesy of the artist, 47 Canal, New York, and Fridericianum, Kassel.
Photo: Fabian Frinzel
Anicka Yi
Search Image, 2016
Taxidermy animal, silicone, hardware, 89.99 x 59.99 x 89.99 cm
Image courtesy of the artist, 47 Canal, New York, and Fridericianum, Kassel.
Photo: Fabian Frinzel

Anicka Yi
The Flavor Genome, 2016
Single-channel 3D video
Image courtesy of the artist and 47 Canal, New York

Anicka Yi
The Flavor Genome, 2016
Single-channel 3D video
Image courtesy of the artist and 47 Canal, New York

[h/t WIRED]

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Watch a Chain of Dominos Climb a Flight of Stairs
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Dominos are made to fall down—it's what they do. But in the hands of 19-year-old professional domino artist Lily Hevesh, known as Hevesh5 on YouTube, the tiny plastic tiles can be arranged to fall up a flight of stairs in spectacular fashion.

The video spotted by Thrillist shows the chain reaction being set off at the top a staircase. The momentum travels to the bottom of the stairs and is then carried back up through a Rube Goldberg machine of balls, cups, dominos, and other toys spanning the steps. The contraption leads back up to the platform where it began, only to end with a basketball bouncing down the steps and toppling a wall of dominos below.

The domino art seems to flow effortlessly, but it took more than a few shots to get it right. The footage below shows the 32nd attempt at having all the elements come together in one, unbroken take. (You can catch the blooper at the end of an uncooperative basketball ruining a near-perfect run.)

Hevesh’s domino chains that don't appear to defy gravity are no less impressive. Check out this ambitious rainbow domino spiral that took her 25 hours to construct.

[h/t Thrillist]

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A Secret Room Full of Michelangelo's Sketches Will Soon Open in Florence
Claudio Giovannini/AFP/Getty Images
Claudio Giovannini/AFP/Getty Images

Parents all over the world have chastised their children for drawing on the walls. But when you're Michelangelo, you've got some leeway. According to The Local, the Medici Chapels, part of the Bargello museum in Florence, Italy, has announced that it plans to open a largely unseen room full of the artist's sketches to the public by 2020.

Roughly 40 years ago, curators of the chapels at the Basilica di San Lorenzo had a very Dan Brown moment when they discovered a trap door in a wardrobe leading to an underground room that appeared to have works from Michelangelo covering its walls. The tiny retreat is thought to be a place where the artist hid out in 1530 after upsetting the Medicis—his patrons—by joining a revolt against their control of Florence. While in self-imposed exile for several months, he apparently spent his time drawing on whatever surfaces were available.

A drawing by Michelangelo under the Medici Chapels in Florence
Claudio Giovannini/AFP/Getty Images

Museum officials previously believed the room and the charcoal drawings were too fragile to risk visitors, but have since had a change of heart, leading to their plan to renovate the building and create new attractions. While not all of the work is thought to be attributable to the famed artist, there's enough of it in the subterranean chamber—including drawings of Jesus and even recreations of portions of the Sistine Chapel—to make a trip worthwhile.

[h/t The Local]

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