Melissa Lindqvist

Body as Atomiser

Swallowable Parfum by Lucy McRae

If we were able to biologically enhance the fragrance emitted from our bodies, what could be the consequences for our everyday existence? Our skin sweating cosmetics, turning into a perfume atomiser. The explicit separation between 'technology' (when regarded as something nonhuman) and the 'human' body is becoming increasingly vague. Designer and body-architect Lucy McRae explores the possibilities of biologically enhanced beauty and scent through her speculative project Swallowable Parfum®, in which eating cosmetics transforms the body.


Developed alongside synthetic biologist Sharef Mansy, McRae invites viewers on a speculative journey through the production and eventual consumption of an edible perfume, which once swallowed will emit a genetically unique fragrance through perspiration on the skin's surface. Part of her project included the performance 'Live Swallowable Parfum Lab', which adopted the gallery setting and turned it into a laboratory - providing an immersive experience to over 300 visitors.

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Swallowable Parum Live Lab - Lucy McRae -

The purpose was to prototype the scientific "what if's" of human enhancement through edible cosmetic technologies, in this case perfume and its emotional impact. But what is stopping us from speculating on further, more outlandish possibilities that this type of project can help to unfold? After all, scientific breakthroughs are constantly changing the way we imagine and transform the human body. It is not only fascinating to explore the impact of genetically enhanced beauty, but also vital. We need to find some way to challenge, explain and reimagine such hugely culturally important biology projects and art can do this by taking a critical distance. 

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Swallowable Parfum - Lucy McRae -