The Search

Eric Fong LG takes us on a remarkable olfactory journey to the smell of death.

The Search is a short film that evokes the intensity of searching for a cadaver in a forest, shot in infrared.

It is part of an Arts Council England funded project, now nearing its completion. It centres on Thanatos, an original perfume that evokes the scent of a decomposing body discovered in a woodland. 

Thanatos is a collaboration between myself, perfumer Euan McCall and forensic anthropologist Dr Anna Williams, whose research on the 400+ volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted during human decomposition underpins the project. The practical implications of her research include improving time-since-death assessment and training of body recovery dogs.

Inspired by the observation that some of the decomposition VOCs are identical to some of the natural ingredients used in commercial perfumes, Thanatos is a blend of selected VOCs plus floral and wood scents. It takes the audience on an olfactory journey from the scentscape of an open meadow to the middle of a secluded forest where a decomposing body is discovered. 

Thanatos will be a multisensory installation that centres on the presentation of the perfume displayed as both the physical product and as the scent. The aroma of Thanatos can be discovered through interaction with a sculpture modelled on an autopsy table. It will be accompanied by the short film The Search, and photographs of staged crime scenes taken at the Crime Scene House at the Forensic Anthropology Department at Teesside University.  
Thanatos considers the bodily processes that occur after death and the advances in forensic science that help us to better understand them. 

The exhibition will take place in 3 different venues consecutively, starting January 2020: Phoenix Art Centre in Leicester, Constantine Gallery at Teesside University, and the Old Operating Theatre Museum in London.

Eric Fong LG 2019

Eric is exhibiting in Part II of The London Group Open 2019, 4 – 13 December, The Cello Factory