projects | scentual bodies

scentual bodies

These bodily odors emanating as they do from the interior of a person, give the impression of conveying the person’s essence or essential being.
Aroma: The Cultural History of Smell.
Constance Classen, David Howes & Anthony Synnott.

We associate a smell with the circumstances under which it was first experienced. Our smell preferences is a reflection of our specific personal/cultural experiences. Smells are involved with every aspect of culture—from the construction of identity, definition of social status to the conforming of personal/group affiliations.

Using handmade dolls filled with fragrances and flavours as metaphors for identities, what emotions and memory associations do these aromas evoke of an individual in the past/present, real/fantasy?

Thursday, September 10th, 2009.
target group
20–35 year old urban dwellers. {Approximately 35 responses.}
experiment structure
body I. Cigars, Clove Cigarettes & Vanilla. {vintage & heritage}
body II. Green tea, Rose Tea, Lavendar & Vanilla. {light & floral}
body III. Dried Fish. {strong & pungent}
body IV. Pumpkin Spice & Cinnamon. {hearth & familial}
body V. Cumin, cardemum & cinnammon. {spicy & exotic}

results {selected answers}
body I. Associated with… someone who needs a shower, musky ex-boyfriend, mother, mother's friends, homeless person, Chinese herbalist, Christmas, traveling India, old antique store, attic in old house in Singapore, closet where Christmas ornaments are stored.
body II. Associated with… a woman getting out of a leisurely bath, grandmother, sister, someone who just cleaned a bathroom, public bathroom that just got cleaned, ex-girlfriend, mother, East Germans, spa, luxury hotel bathroom, mother's bathroom, hospital/institutional area, renovated apartment.
body III. Associated with… my best friend after deep sea fishing, first cousins, someone who burped after eating too much fish, friend from Italy, drunk person, fisherman, Fulton Fish Market, Chinatown in New York, Chinatown in 1980s Singapore, seaside, stinky bathroom.
body IV. Associated with… a woman that works in a Christmas store, Father Christmas, red-haired girl in grade school, my husband chewing gum, sales people, first boyfriend, fall by the fireplace, school dance, holiday parties, Thanksgiving, the mall, scent store, K-mart.
body V. Associated with… best friend, Indian girlfriend, my first love, grandmother's kitchen, mother making tea, chef, Indian friend drinking wine, cab driver, Indian spice market, Indian restaurant on my 23rd birthday, cooking Indian food, late night dinners, New York.