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 about others if we were to eat it. This project asks us to imagine a world in which we could experience others by tasting and smelling (retronasal smell) them with our mouth. What would this intimate encounter of others evoke? Which assumptions about our own taste judgment as well as the bodily taste of others would we experience? The food design was based on interviews on how people at Wageningen University could imagine eating body scent, and in what edible form.

Eat Me is part of a project series which investigates the politics of body scent* in different cities. It 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.

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.

popcorn

Burnt popcorn. This snack is based on an interviewee who could imagine body scent to taste like burnt popcorn. Photo: Cody Healey-Conelly

flowery jelly

Sweet elderberry flower vegan jelly. This snack is 
based on an interviewee who could imagine eating 
body scent. For her it would have a delicate sweet 
taste like a flower’s smell. Photo: Cody Healey-Conelly

beer

A spicy home-brewed beer. This drink is based on an interviewee who could imagine home-brewed beer to taste like body scent. He imagines the taste of fragrant products, vanilla, and oriental scents (cinnamon, amber, black pepper, sandalwood, and palo santo). Photo: Cody Healey-Conelly

4_snacks

Rightmost: Beige/white vegan jelly with miso paste. This snack is based on an interviewee who could imagine eating body odor with added fragrant products. She pictures it to have little taste, not a lot of texture, nor structure, similar to a jelly. Taste wise it would be salty, definitely not sweet, and beige in terms of color. Front left: Sticky red-brown lavender caramel. This snack is based on an interviewee who can’t imagine eating natural body odor, but instead fragrant and artificial scents (e.g. shampoo, deodorant). He envisions a sweet gummy candy like taste with lavender. It could be red or purple and have chewy quality. Photo: Cody Healey-Conelly

IMG_9615

Experiment stage #2, participants exploring body scent samples. Photo: Cody Healey-Conelly

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

* 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.

 

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.