Thursday’s Tile: Yee Gawd, What’s that Smell????

Let us now turn our attention to the Smell Area of the Five Senses Bench and perform a photo examination of something besides the pleasant smells of sweet peas and petrichor, coffee beans and stargazer lilies. (Or even all that yummy food round the other side in the ginormous Taste Area.)

Yee Gawd, what’s that awful smell? There is a disproportionate number of reviling tiles in this sense area than in nearly all the other senses combined.

I know a few reasons why. One is that Smell apparently connects right to our reptilian brains, giving us primal and non-cognitive information. Our whole beings react to smells on experiential levels we can hardly even perceive. We know our parents and siblings by smell: it’s a proven fact, even if we never needed to ID them that way. No thinking needed.

The other reason I know why there are so many stinky tiles is because of the couple of fun afternoons I sat on the bench-in-progress, notepad in hand, and took down every free association for Smell that GN and PMcN threw at me. They were moving around the outdoor work area one-upping each other with grossness. It is absolutely the BEST way to get good ideas: Get your body in motion and just start speaking everything that comes to mind. Have a sympatico partner to play the game with and someone or something else recording it all.

So let’s take a look at some of their excellent collaboration results.

The next two shots are the same basic location, low on the seat back, just above and below the SMELL label tiles made by the aesthetically opinionated and industrious DP. They form a tableau of bad smells and possible remedies: air freshener and clothespin-on-the-nose (does anyone really do that, or is it just a fun image?)

Ya got yer skunks, your cigarettes and burnt matches. If you think about it, I bet you can recall each smell clearly enough to want to use a clothespin yourself. If you get enough skunky odor, it will make you retch. Bet you don’t want to try, either.

A word about that broken and falling evergreen tree. It is funny next to the pine air freshener, no? And yes, the tile broke in the making, but it strengthened the narrative relating to Smell because then it became an example of John Muir’s description of the 7.4 magnitude Owens Valley earthquake as he experienced it on the West side of the Sierras in Yosemite Valley in 1872. He wrote this: “…and the air was loaded with the odor of crushed Douglas Spruces, from a grove that had been mowed down and mashed like weeds.” Think: Gigantic Christmas Tree lot, bowled over! (And thank you forever for your glorious writings, John Muir.)

Above we have one example of several kinds of flowers, Arum genus, I believe, that can smell like rotting flesh, when they bloom. Some are insanely huge, too.

You see that outhouse tile just below the Arum Amorphophallus flower? Here come the bodily emissions!

Our little man is burning a hole in his pants emitting that green cloud with a few odd chunky areas in it. Can air be chunky? Need we say more?

Well, GN and PMcN outdid themselves. P got such a clear image of “a soft-serve pile of poo” he made it himself. That’s some great shit, P! If I recall, it’s dog poo. Watch your step, it smells worse on the beach between your barefoot toes. Ask me. I know.

Does anyone sweat freely by choice any more? Let’s completely block those sweat glands with a giant swipe of aluminum chlorhydrate.And there’s the hairy armpit with one nipple to accentuate the message.

The stinky sneakers look almost genteel. But what about toxic fumes? Chemicals? Smog? Methane gas? Carbon Dioxide? We end with the whole world wearing a heavy duty gas mask to prevent it from smelling…..itself? “Fumes may cause death.” Indeed. You have been notified.

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