How do we relate to people when we eat body scent? That is what the art science project of Lauryn Mannigel, artist in residence, is about; exploring the emotional and feeling phenomena of body scent. Wednesday evening she presents her work in Impulse and serves snacks and drinks to those who dare to take a bite.
We all react to body scent. Often in an unconscious way, but when we smell the scent of another human being this starts an emotional train of associations. “I am interested in raising awareness of how we perceive body scent. There is still a social taboo on body scent in the Western World. Yet, it is a very important factor in how we communicate. For example, we can pick up someone's emotional state, and if we are not familiar with a their scent and we dislike it, this can be experienced as social discrimination or even racism. It seems that we let the people whose smell we like be part of our close social circle.”
Mannigel interviewed students and workers on Wageningen Campus asking them how they value human scent, if they would eat natural body scent, and if so, in what edible form. Based on the responses she developed snacks and drinks that taste like human scent. Some will taste of how people imagine the taste of natural body scent and others of natural body scent mixed with added fragrances.
In this project Mannigel worked together with scientists Garmt Dijksterhuis, researcher Fresh Food & Chains and Jessica Duncan, assistant professor of Rural Sociology. Both scientists were enthusiastic to see what an art-meets-science approach can uncover.
“The idea of turning body scent into edible products is something that a scientist as myself may at first reject as unscientific”, Dijksterhuis explains. “Nevertheless, good science always needs inspiration from as many sides as possible, and arts is able to provide such inspiration. It makes me think differently about smell and food-flavours. I’m happy to be involved, and I hope I can contribute to the success of the project, while getting inspiration for my own work.”
Mannigel and Duncan discussed the interview strategy that Mannigel would apply. Duncan was pleased to be able to bring her expertise on qualitative methods to the table and find strategies to ensure that Lauryn could collect the data she needed. Duncan: “Working with Lauryn certainly brought me out of my comfort zone as a scientist. I teach on Food Cultures where we spend a lot of time discussing theories of taste and disgust. Lauryn’s creative vision provided unique bridges between these theories and everyday experiences.”
Invitation to join snack tasting
According to Mannigel, tasting the snacks that allude body scent is a first step towards making body scents edible. ‘Iam very curious as how people will react towards my first snacks’, she says. On Wednesday 30th May she will serve the treats in Impulse, starting at 17:30.
Art on campus
Mannigel is one of the ten artists in the project Creative innovation; Art meets Science which is looking for innovative ideas within the WUR domain. Each artist will work together with two scientists for two months on campus. Together they will explore useful innovations that fit into the scientists’ research and education domains.
Read more about the artists and their work on the website.