Few cities on earth come close to matching the wealth of archeological history That exists in Rome. "A-Roma" re-interprets ancient Rome through a contemporary lens by distilling the scents of the living urban ecologies growing on top of, in between, and alongside historic sites.
What we Asked:
How might we explore contemporary narratives and interpretations of ancient urban sites such as the Colosseum, The Pantheon, and the Aurelian Wall? Rather than privileging the typical elements of these sites such as history and architecture, how might we foreground and celebrate aspects that are often overlooked?
What we Discovered:
Though a series of early morning urban foraging excursions, biological material from three of Rome’s most iconic historical sites was gathered, organized, and identified. Each site yielded a unique palette of biotypes ranging from trees, shrubs, weeds, moss, mold, and fungi. We discovered that the living ecologies from these places tell interesting stories that reflect a co-existence with their respective sites within a specific moment in space and time-subject to various environmental and social processes that exist within the city today.
What we Did:
Commonstudio designed an interactive installation that displayed and processed the range of collected plant material by means of steam distillation to extract and interpret each site as a unique scent. The installation consisted of a series of steam distillation systems, collected earth and plants from each site, and cast papercrete forms that channeled and captured the liquified essential oils as an intimate olfactory experience.