Over the week I was reading blog posts including http://www.pheromoneparties.com/.
Artist Judith Prays realized that online dating didn’t work for her. She wanted to know how can people date based on body odor. The first event was in Brooklyn in November 2010. What kind of party was that? How can we date based on body odor? Participants slept in a clean t-shirt for 3 nights to capture their body odor and then put it in a ziplock. Bags were labeled pink for female and blue for male with a number on them. Only the person knew what his/her bag number was. People smelled the bags, and if a person found the smell attractive, he/she took a picture with the bag and the photos were projected as a slide show on the wall. The person could go and talk to the one who has chosen his/her bag.
Last night Joana and I had a call, discussing possible ideas for what a t-shirt/box and memory/mood study might look like. Not all scents come from plants, or created in labs. Some smells occur in a once-in-a-lifetime, such as smell of the old school cafeteria. Good, bad or neutral, they are forever in the neural landscape, never to be forgotten. You catch a whiff of this smell and suddenly you’re immersed in a flurry of memories. Smells get routed through your olfactory bulb; it’s closely connected to your amygdala and hippocampus, regions that handle memory and emotion. Studies show that odors are effective as reminders of past experience. Can you harness the power of scents to trigger real physical and emotional responses through someone’s body smell? Joana and I are interested to find out that if a person’s smell can bring on a flood of memories, influence another person’s mood and affect his/her work performance. As Joana and I have been working together on brainstorming ways that we can start the project we thought it is nice to meet each other in person. We talked about how to meet and find the material for our project in the stores. For now I am left with thinking about finding a gift shop and what we can buy for the project.
Voulez-vous couchez avec moi?
Playing on the idea of Sense Dating, Pooneh and I discussed the case of X. X is an hetero woman living in New York City, very sensitive to the sense of smell, she has multiple times broken off possible relationships due to incompatibility of… nose. Can we help X?
What if we craft a love letter, a message in a bottle, capturing her self, her scent, and put it into the world to attract a mate? This love letter would capture her nighttime presence through smell, the self that is only accessible in moments of pure abandon, of relaxation and co-sleeping. The closeness of an intimate relationship. Anyone who finds the “letter” and is interested, can take it home and… sleep with it, relax with the projected embodiment of X and see how they feel. If the recipient is interested in meeting X, he’ll need to send his own “letter.” And X, if she wishes to, will sleep with it too. If she is interested in return, we will facilitate a connection between the two.
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Pooneh Heshmati is an award-winning cognitive neuroscientist, physician, and post doctoral researcher at Northwell Health in New York.
Joana Ricou is an award-winning NYC-based artist, and creative director of Regenerative Medicine Partnership for Life.