Project Description – One Tree ID

One Tree ID – Himalaya Cedar, installation view, Kunsthalle Rostock, 2019

A Biochemical and Biopoetic Odour Communication Experiment

The project „ONE TREE ID“ transforms the ID of a specific tree into a perfume that can then be applied to the human body. By applying it, a person can invisibly wear not just characteristics of the tree he/she is standing next to, but also use parts of its communication system and potentially have a conversation that – although invisible and inaudible by nature – might still take place on the biochemical level plants use for information exchange.


All Plants emit Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). These are gases that contribute to cloud formation. Its also what we recognize as the fragrance of a forest. Plants communicate with the help of VOCs. Furthermore, these emissions are very specific for each individual plant; so each tree generates its own cloud. With the help of chamber measurements we can detect these molecule clouds and most ist components.

A Tree Specific Perfume – Producing the „ONE TREE ID“

For its first realization in we selected a Himalayan Cedar. The roots and its bacteria, the tree stem and needles emit different VOCs. So we measured the cloud of the roots, the cloud of the tree stem and the cloud of the needles separately. It was possible to define more than 100 different compounds. Despite tremendous advancements in technology, it is not possible to determine the VOCs 100per cent, as they are so small and short-lived. It could be that the 1 per cent we cannot measure is the part that gives the cloud its fragrance. The human nose and its 20 million receptors is still the only tool that can detect certain aspects of it. Therefore, we also invited a perfumer to smell the tree. The collected machine data and nose data where fused to synthezise the perfumes “Cloud of the Roots”, “Cloud of the Tree Stem”, “Cloud of the Tree Crown”, which then – in a final step – lead to the synthesis of the “One Tree ID” perfume.

Installation detail, tree stem chamber
One Tree ID – Cloud of the Roots, Himalaya Cedar, perfume