Art Basel Miami Beach

Artist Natasha Tomchin Brings Sight, Sound, and Scent Collaboration to Scope Art Fair

Natasha Tomchin (left) and Charles Levine
Natasha Tomchin (left) and Charles Levine Photo by Karli Evans
Artists Natasha Tomchin and Charles Levine have been collaborating, both professionally and in life, for years. The inside of the pair's Biscayne Park home is like stepping into a mini museum. Art covers the walls, from paintings by Ahol Sniffs Glue to glass sculptures by Mundy Hepburn and Tomchin's own monstera leaf creations.

A miniature disco ball in the corner of the room reflects on the art in the space. The couple's trusty pup, Bandit, sits unfazed on the couch.

Tomchin and Levine are preparing for their upcoming installation at Scope Miami Beach during Miami Art Week. It's Tomchin's second time exhibiting at Scope alongside Glass2Grass Gallery. This year, the multidisciplinary artist is doing what she does best: bringing people together to create magic.

Glass artist Alex Ubatuba will be featuring six intricate sculptures, of which Tomchin will be projection mapping some of the pieces. Tomchin herself will have her signature dichroic clouds in the space. Scent artist Max Williams of UFO Parfums has been tasked with concocting a scent for the booth space, and Levine is producing a soundtrack to the whole experience.

The space's soundtrack promises to be memorable. Levine was inspired both by space and the sea during the creative process.

"I'm going to be making a soundscape," Levine explains. "It won't be sound that you would expect. I'll be creating a soundscape that then has this sort of melodic component inspired by the cosmos and the depths of the ocean."

Sitting across from his partner, Levine looks over at Tomchin and coyly cocks his head. "This is really your specialty," he says. "It's bringing together a lot of different mediums and artists and collaborating. This feels like a continuation of what you've been working on."

Tomchin smiles as her cheeks flush lightly. "I've always been trying to push towards a multisensory installation. That's always been the goal," she says. "This installation, for me, is the first time I get to combine everything at once. It's been such a fun way to grow creatively."

Part of the inspiration for the immersive sight, sound, and scent installation is the notion that "you just had to be there." Often, people will experience something vicariously through a photo online and chalk up the experience had by someone else. You have to physically be present to properly experience the work — seeing or hearing a clip online isn't enough.
click to enlarge
Alex Ubatuba's work will be on display at Scope Art Fair at the Glass2Grass Gallery booth.
Photo courtesy of Alex Ubatuba
A photo can capture an image and video can capture sound, but a smell? "Scent felt like the ultimate but-you-weren't-there element," says Tomchin sitting upright as if with newfound energy. "If you're not actually there, you can't feel what it's like to enter the room."

Tomchin first worked with Williams on a scent during a solo show in Hawaii. Building off of that collaboration, she recruited the scent artist to create unique smells that will tickle the olfactory as you enter booth D029 at Scope.

"There's so much science behind [creating a scent], but there's also a beautiful art to it," Tomchin says of her experience working with Williams.

Although other artists will be exhibiting as part of the Glass2Grass Gallery booth, Tomchin and her collaborators have their own 11-by-15-foot room in the back. Expect the room to be cloaked in darkness: Ubatuba's sculptures require special uplighting, and Tomchin's projection mapping is better experienced in the dark.

"It's scent. It's sound. It's art. It's light moving. I hate to say, 'You had to be there,' but, yeah, you had to be there," says Tomchin with a laugh.

In addition to the scents created for the installation, Tomchin worked closely with Williams to develop unique fragrances for the entire booth space.

"Our goal was to create a real experience. It's a journey moving through the booth to get to our spot," Tomchin explains.

Tomchin has been collaborating with Ubatuba for a handful of years now. The pair will showcase their newest dichroic glass sculptures as part of the installation at Scope.

Tomchin gets excited as she describes her friend and collaborator's work. "He has one eight-foot sculpture that's going to be in the center, and it has like 122 different pieces. It's really mind-blowing stuff. When I look at his work and the level of craftsmanship, it blows my mind."

The best part about collaborating with other artists is learning from each other's expertise and just jive, adds Levine, adjusting on the couch next to Tomchin and Bandit. "Everyone can appreciate each other's contribution. We can all sort of be masters of our own domain."

Scope Art Fair. Tuesday, November 29 through Sunday, December 4 at Ocean Drive and Eighth Street, Miami Beach; scope-art.com. Tickets cost $60 to $544.40.
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Carolina del Busto is a freelance writer for Miami New Times. She nurtured her love of words at Boston College before moving back home to Miami and has been covering arts and culture in the Magic City since 2013.

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