The History Of Thoughtful Smelling was my MFA thesis exhibition. It was a satirical exhibit showing a historical timeline of an invented product that claimed to help someone smell things better. Though the object I created was a joke I was interested in proving it could be real. I cited objects like the selfie stick which at first were outlandish but became normalized over time. My research and interests were in pataphysics, experimental narratives, and cultural hegemony. My process of making something false come true was to create many different physical versions of the device, exploring possible avenues where the Nose Horn (also referred as the Nose Gun in the exhibit) could have become an established societal norm. I also gave it a story, creating a comprehensive narrative, where I got to play with the objects possible pasts. I staged photographs and made videos, I created performances and an installation, and I even wrote music to further make real the Nose Horn. Below is an abridged showing of some of the media from this exhibit.
(Prologue) A Word From The Curator at the Sights and Smells Museum.
All items you see today were hand selected from our archives. We attempted to put together a short narrative of some of the key moments in the history of the infamous Nose Gun. We sincerely hope you appreciate these items as much as we do.
Some years ago a negative kid with absolutely no interest in anything outside of smelling reached out to me with what I thought was trepidation. He was asking my advice on his thesis. A thesis idea, much to the chagrin of his committee I am sure, was on the history of intelligently smelling. I didn’t think I could help the poor boy. I gave a dry response, the equivalent to a patronizing pat on the back, and promptly forgot about him. It was not until a few years later that I discovered he went on to write the dang thing. Bless his crazy heart.
Being of the upper echelon of aroma academia, apart of several secret orders of smell, and having membership to most snooty clubs, I often forget to pay attention to those eager young nostrils just starting out. I am sorry I neglected Mr. Elroy-Igaboy in his beginnings. However, The History Of Thoughtful Smelling, His text, has acquired numerous accolades and at this point he does not need my praise nor guidance. In a scents (HA, can’t help myself!) the roles have reversed and sometimes I wonder if he would be willing to give me advice.
We felt segments of his book, along with our archival media of the Nose Gun materials, told a nice story, thus, for your viewing pleasure: a curated history of the Nose Gun. Keep smelling thoughtfully,
Arthur P. Butterford
Sights And Smells Museum
A Tool Gets Life
It began with soap making. Artisan soap makers first introduced this device to the world as a tool which helped them find the perfect combination of essential oils, Lye, fat, and water. Rene Deneuve, the son of a wealthy estate owner and an early pioneer to the soap as craft movement, is credited for coming up with the idea of the Nose Gun. He, a self-taught artist and designer, drew a series of sketches envisioning the object. Those sketches are still on display today at the Sights and Smells Museum in Old Yolk. But before they were museum lore he took those drawings to a local sand-caster to make the first ever Nose Gun. At the time they were not known by the name ‘Nose Gun,’ as that was something popularized much later in modern day pop culture. He called the devices ‘Grand Grossissement de parfum’ and also ‘parfum magnifiers.’ Names that are admittedly beautiful, but did not roll off the tongue quite as naturally as ‘Nose Gun.’
Over the years Mr. Deneuve and his caster colleague refined the design to more or less what we know as a ‘Nose Gun’ today. Something you stick in your nose into and then point in the direction of a desired aroma. And yes, this author feels inclined to point out that this refined design is also on display today, some five hundred years later, at the Sights and Smells Museum.
Though the device likely did not make sense of scent any more than an ordinary nose would, it had allure and became an essential part of the soap making practice of the times. Similar to efforts some connoisseurs go to as they drink certain wines or whiskeys from specific glasses, the Nose Guns were a belief more than a reality. Or I should say a belief which made a reality. Gustave De Musset, a very famous soap maker and known for his loud opinions was quoted on the subject saying, “Your soap smells too bright, too fresh, too fishy, you neglected to use the parfum magnifier. You are not a soap maker!” (Elroy-Igaboy 23)
[Excerpt from The History Of Thoughtful Smelling, By B. G. Elroy-Igaboy]