Eat Me

2018, Creative Innovation Art meets Science, Wageningen University, NL

Eat Me is a performative experiment that explores how people’s body scents make us feel about others, if we were to eat their body scents.

Eat Me asks participants to imagine a world in which experiencing others by tasting and smelling (retronasal smell) them would be the norm. Mannigel conducted interviews at Wageningen University, asking people if they could imagine eating others’ body scents, and in which edible forms. Based on people’s replies, she designed four snacks and one beverage, which were served at the project’s presentation.

The Eat Me experiment’s project presentation unfolded in three stages. While Mannigel presented the research behind her project, participants were invited to collect samples of their own underarm body scents. They were then solicited 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 people’s body scents. The food design was based on Mannigel’s interviews. When smelling and tasting, participants were asked to record their experience in a paper questionnaire.

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 imagines body scent to 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, such as, 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 a 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

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.