Eat Me

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 thus focuses on the underarm scent because it is one of the few body parts that create people’s individual body scent signature. Eat Me is part of a series of projects which investigate the politics of body scent (1) through the lens of the affective (2) perception of body scent in different cities.

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Experiment stage 3: Tasting snacks alluding to body scent. Photo: Cody Healey-Conelly

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 record their feeling experience.

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Experiment stage 2: Smelling body scent samples. Photo: Cody Healey-Conelly

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!

More details in this article: Resource, Wageningen University, by Roelof Kleis

(1) Here body scent is understood as the entire spectrum of human body odors, as they occur in everyday life. Body scents can be rather natural, or modified by added products such as shower gel, aftershave, essential oils, etc. Overall, all activities (such as working, exercising, food, etc.) have an effect on our body scent.

(2) Affect is understood as the relational capacity between people encompassing the way they relate to one another non-verbally and verbally. It also draws from the cultural and social science approach by Röttger-Rössler and Slaby, which understands affect as a matter of dynamic, intensive relations unfolding between human actors in and with complex environmental settings, material formations, (urban) landscapes and designed spaces, various artifacts, technologies and media” (Röttger-Rössler & Slaby 2018, p. 3).

 

 

Credits:
Advisors: Jessica Duncan and Garmt Dijksterhuis

Performers: Ashi Khan, Hannah Fischer, Maaike Dekker, Iris Mathar

Photos: Cody Healey-Conelly

Many thanks to Ilja Croijmans, Francisco Presas Basalo, Sanne Boesveldt, Els Siebelink, Nicolien Pieterse, Anke de Vrieze, and all anonymous interviewees.