The current low status of smell is a result of the revaluation of the senses by philosophers and scientists of the 18th and 19th centuries. (from The Smell Report by Kate Fox, Social Issues Research Centre).
Smell was considered lower order, primitive, savage and bestial. Smell is the one sense where control is lost, each intake of breath sends loaded air molecules over the receptors in the nose and in turn potentially gutteral, uncensored information to the brain.
At the same time our bodies are emitting, loading the air around us and effecting others in ways we are only now starting to understand.
This project explores the human experiential potential of the sense of smell, applying contemporary scientific research in a range of domestic and social contexts.
Dating and genetic compatibility:
For the Amazonian Desana marriage is only allowed between individuals with different odours. (same with Batek Negrito of the Malay Peninsula). In conjunction research (wedekind et al, 1995. Proc R London ser B 260:245-249) has proven that Humans use body odour to identify genetically appropriate mates.
This proposal is for a blind dating agency aimed at individuals wishing to meet a suitable partner for procreation. Olfactory communication is given precidence over visual stimuli.
Health – Hippocrates (4th Century BC) first suggested that illness could be diagnosed through smell emissions (body odour). Avicenna (10th Century AD) used urine to detect maladies. Recently dogs have been used to locate cancerous cells in the human body.
This proposal explores how smell could be applied as a diagnosis tool through training and calibration.
Wellbeing – similar to health but also valid in terms of understanding personal identity – one’s own natural smell. This would have to be familiarised to notice the small changes that may arise by change in wellbeing.
Cooking – Exploring the full experiential potential of smell as applied to the cooking process.
This research and experimentation could lead to new cooking experiences and possibilities.
This project is funded by Philips Design.
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