The ‘Codex des Gestuelles’ project presents a phenomenology of perfume, exploring the gestures and experiences associated with applying scent. Although much time and thought has gone into the olfactory experience of fragrances and how to present the sensation of the perfume visually through the packaging, this is the first exploration I’ve seen into deciphering a fragrances usage. The ‘Codex des Gestuelles’ contemplates the performance of applying perfume as both a personal ritual and a wider shared cultural and environmental experience. Every gesture conveys a meaning and personality, codified in our everyday behavior through repetition and practice. The examination of this repertoire of actions is an example of stepping back and dissecting our actions – making the familiar strange – and exemplifying how important it is to categorize our behaviors and understand their meanings.
By exploring the gestures that precede the perfume, we are investigating the intermediate between the scent and ourselves, a display of the emotions and feelings we have in this time and space: elegance; sensuality; exhibition; protection; cleanliness. Some of the eminent gestures include:
The Smellfie: Olfactory cliché, the action of smelling ones wrists after using perfume, a gesture of worship dedicated to the smell: “I smell so I am”.
Deliprecis: Refers to a person who delicately targets precise points such as the back of the ears up to the neck, wrists, the hollow of the elbow… to retain the perfume there. Blatantly deliberate gestures.
Sprayducter: A man who abundantly sprays the bust with perfume in order to seduce. A flirting Don Juan.
Debrumer: The action of vigorously patting the face with scent to get rid of morning drowsiness; the equivalent of an espresso.
Ennuager: Someone who transforms the fragrance into a cloud to immerse oneself in; a display of extravagant happiness.
The ‘Codex des Gestuelles’ provokes us to question what these gestures might says about the user, their environment and personality, and proves how the most seemingly natural of bodily responses can open a door into our individual and collective human experience.