Why are some people more attractive to mosquitoes than others? What do our body odours signal to insects? Could ‘unattractive’ chemicals inside our body be a sign that the person a mosquito is about to feed on may be an unsuitable food source, due to stress caused by illness or disease?
Am I Attractive? is an interactive installation developed by designer Susana Soares in collaboration with a medical research team led by Dr James Logan that allows you to discover, in a playful way, if your scent is attractive or unattractive to mosquitoes. Two people place their hands in opposite sides of the installation, and in an average of 90 seconds the insects will invariably fly towards the most attractive scent.
It is estimated that over 1.2 million people die from malaria, which is carried by mosquitoes, each year. Am I Attractive? aims to raise awareness for malaria research, and stemsfromnew research methods adopted by Dr Logan’s team to develop a more efficient, reliable repellent made of natural chemicals. This research focuses on how body odours from certain people naturally repel midges and mosquitoes, which could explain why some people are more attractive to mosquitoes than others. People who are unattractive to biting insects mask the ‘attractive’ scent’s chemicals within their body odour.
Am I Attractive? is presented in conjunction with WORK’s current exhibition, See Yourself Sensing: Redefining Human Perception, which investigates how artists and designers from Haus-Ruck-Co and Ann Hamilton, to Beta Tank and Auger + Loizeau, engage with the theme of sensory perception. Their work pushes boundaries both conceptually and technical, harnessing existing and developing technologies to challenge our perceptions of ourselves, and the ways we communicate and inhabit space.
WORK is a new independent space located in King’s Cross, London and affiliated with Black Dog Publishing. WORK collaborates with leading figures in the fields of art, design and architecture to provide a platform for innovative creative practice and critical debate.
Image shown: Am I Attractive? at Lapse in Time EXD2009, Lisbon, Portugal. Visitors find out in a playful way whether their odour is attractive or unattractive to mosquitoes. Courtesy Susana Soares.
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