Discovering Columbus (A Little Monday Morning Quarterbacking)



If there’s one thing I love about living in New York City, it’s the anything is possible reality, case-in-point the public art exhibit Discovering Columbus. At the entrance of the famed Central Park is an area known as Columbus Circle. It’s also the intersection of eighth avenue, broadway and central park west and south; and where you’ll find a statue of Christopher Columbus, hence the name. With the hustle most New Yorkers move with, one could pass this thing daily and not even recognize it. Well, the Japanese artist Tatzu Nishi set out to change that for us.

Mr. Nishi is an artist who creates public exhibits on a grand scale, e.g. erects spaces around public monuments and artwork. For his latest project, he built a living room perched 75 ft above ground around the Columbus statue allowing New Yorkers an opportunity to experience the statue in a way we would never ever have; and it was awesome.

Columbus is the centerpiece of the living room, which is fully furnished with a flat screen TV, sofa and side chairs, lamps, and even pictures on the wall and specially made wall paper. The decor is modern and according to the Public Art Fund’s website, it reflects Nishi’s “interpretation of contemporary New York style.” After climbing six flights of stairs, you are completely transported to his vision and in awe of the reality he’s created. The one thing I thought it lacked, however, was scent. Its absence took nothing away from this exhibit. My thought here though is that it could have added a nice dimension to the experience. So, how could this have been achieved? Because this is art and part of the experience is the decorative nature of the living room around Columbus, I would have used scent diffusers. Here are few diffusing options that add to the contemporary vibe while delivering a comforting and inviting scent to the space:

Nest Fragrances Orange Blossom Reed Diffuser

Alora Ambiance Vaniglia Reed Diffuser

Anthousa Lavender and Chinese May Chang Reed Diffuser

In the book Brand Sense, the well-recognized branding expert Martin Lindstrom argues that brands that incorporate all of our senses – touch, sight, sound, taste and smell, will create a greater emotional connection with consumers and therefore exceptional brand experiences. In this post, I lightheartedly argue that Discovering Columbus could have grabbed visitors’ attention even more with their sense of smell. Nevertheless, this is art and open to myriad points of view. If you’re in New York, I hope you get an opportunity to view this exhibit; it’s on view until November 18, 2012. If you do, take a deep breath and imagine how scent could enhance your experience.

Images: Columbus Circle via Tokyo Times, Nest Fragrances Orange Blossom Reed Diffuser via Nest Fragrances, Alora Ambiance Vaniglia Reed Diffuser via Alora Ambiance, Anthousa Lavender and Chinese May Chang Reed Diffuser via Aedes de Venustas. All other photos are my own.

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8 responses to “Discovering Columbus (A Little Monday Morning Quarterbacking)

  1. Wow I would love to see that show. Great post by the way and I can see that old Columbus needed something nice in the air in his new living room.

  2. I attended this exhibit and while it was great, know that a little scent would have added a special touch to the space.

  3. Excellent suggestion. I like this guys work he did a couple of these in Sydney a while back but not as big.
    Portia x

    • Portia, I’d love to see more of Nishi’s work. This exhibit was awesome. The use of scent would have been an interesting detail and I thought I’d offer a few suggestions. Thanks for stopping by.

      • I think the smell of some Japanese or Indian/US fusion food would have given it a whole new meaning too. Make the living room seem like part of a families residence.
        Portia x

      • Scent is so powerful that I can see how there may have been a conscious decision not to use it and I can accept that. The choices I offer in the post, I believe are aesthetically congruent with the exhibits decor, which is a key component to it not being disruptive. I also offer scents that err on the calming side for the same reason, to keep the focus on Columbus, but add a nice dimension to the background. Anyhow, this was a fun exercise and I’m glad you can appreciate it Portia.

  4. I really like your perspective on this. Multisensory art is a pretty nifty thing. I’ve yet to find anything locally here in Vancouver Canada that uses smell as part of their exhibit. Would be very cool though.

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