2018, Creative Innovation Art meets Science, Wageningen University, NL
Eat Me is a performative experiment that explores body scent’s crucial role in social communication by asking how people’s body scent makes us feel if we were to eat it. It is part of a series of projects which focus on the affective aesthetic and social potential of body scent which tackles the longstanding social taboo towards body scent.
Eat Me focuses on the underarm scent because it is one of the few body parts that creates people’s individual body scent signature (1). Depending on the person, underarm scent can be solely natural or a mix of natural body scent with added fragrant products.
The performative experiment unfolded in three stages at the Speakers corner of the innovative Impulse building. While Lauryn presented the research behind her project, participants were initially invited to take samples of their own underarm body scent. Secondly, they were asked to smell five of the body scent samples that were anonymously presented in glass jars. Finally, participants were served four snacks and one beverage which alluded to body scent. The food design was based on interviews on how people at Wageningen University could imagine eating body scent, and in what edible form. When smelling and tasting, participants were asked to evaluate their emotional experience.
Eat Me was developed in conversation mainly with Assistant Professor in Rural Sociology, Jessica Duncan (Social Science Research Group), as well as psychological scientist and expert in smell and taste perception, Garmt Dijksterhuis (Agrotechnology and Food Science Group) as part of the Creative Innovation: Art meets Science residency program at Wageningen University, alongside other researchers and staff at Wageningen University. This program fostered a dialog between artists and scientists to spark ideas about scientific issues through discussion and artistic intervention.
Stay tuned for the evaluation of the emotional experiences!
Performers: Ashi Khan, Hannah Fischer, Maaike Dekker, Iris Mathar
Photos: Cody Healy Connely
Many thanks to Ilja Croijmans, Francisco Presas Basalo, Sanne Boesveldt, Els Siebelink, Nicolien Pieterse, Anke de Vrieze, and all anonymous interviewees.