a return to imagination
when imagination was in the driver’s seat, the future was an open journey
A Return to Imagination is an installation that explores the power of smell to exhibit a memory triggered by a scent from my past.
When I was 12 years old, my mother and I moved to Florida, not far from Walt Disney World. While my mother worked at Epcot Center, I spend my summers and weekends for those first few years exploring the parks and absorbing as much as I could at the various attractions. I spent a majority of my time in Epcot, which holds a special place in my heart.
One attraction that I took special interest in was Journey Into Imagination, a ride through the endless possibilities of dreams and imagination. It was a true inspiration that came to life through music, motion, audio animatronics and SMELL! Traveling through this land of the possible with nothing but time, dreams and the future ahead, really opened up my mind and inspired me to dream big and never stop imagining. There was one room in particular that caught my nose. As soon as you turned the corner and and entered a giant room with grand purple walls and white clouds and cutouts swimming through the air, a gust of flowery, fruity perfume jumped out and sat in your ride vehicle for the duration of that segment of the attraction. It was only in that room, and that room alone.
Scene appears about 5:39 into the video.
In 1999, the attraction closed and made way for a new incarnation of itself. The purple, smell-infused room was no more, along with the nostalgic ambiance of imagination. The ride was re-refurbished again a few years later to bring back more of the essence of the original, but it was still missing that something special.
Over the summer, one of my coworkers brought in a bottle of rose water. I was thirsty so I asked about drinking it. However, I was informed it was actually more for skin application so instead I took a cotton ball of it for my face. As soon as I brought the cotton to my nose, I was immediately transported back to 12 years old, riding through the purple room in Journey Into Imagination. Here I was, suddenly right back to a familiar happy place, a place I thought that I would never experience again, reawakening my memory and imagination.
I wanted to create a box that held the essence of the room, the purple dreamscape, while the scent of rose water whimsically flowed through the space by means of fan power.
I used an old desktop computer fan (still ripe with dust) and hooked it up to two AA batteries and a breadboard.
I then used a former shadow box frame as the setting, and set up the stage of the exhibit inside. I cut out a hold for the fan to link up to. In front of the fan I placed three rose water-soaked cotton balls and covered them with scenery. The final touch was the laser-etched caption.
One click of the on-switch, and the exhibit instantly became an olfactory time machine to the mid-90s Epcot. A younger, freer time.