Self Initiated Research Investigation
The project Smell Triggers speculates on a healthcare system sustained by the release of genetically modified mosquitoes into the environment.
Despite our western depreciation of smell, chemical exchanges between organisms lie at the core of essential life processes. As research into scent analysis evolves, soon it should be possible to recognise how old someone is, what their gender is and what illnesses they have. Each of the +7 billion people on Earth has a unique body odour, a personal chemical signature. The smelly chemicals secreted through sweat like lactic acid, vary with body pH changes and are highly attractive for some insects such as female mosquitoes, which require the proteins found in blood in order to produce eggs for reproduction. These chemical surveilors, enable an obtainment of information beyond the range of the human senses, suggesting other possible encounters with these insects.
In 1954 the Sterile Insect Technique was first implemented on the island of Curaçao, where male insects were sterilised through radiation and released into the wild. In 2009, the UK biotechnology company Oxitec released 18,000 genetically engineered mosquitoes over a 4 week period in the Cayman Islands, modified through the RIDL (Release of Insects carrying a Dominant Lethal) technique, inserting a lethal gene into male mosquitoes, to be later passed onto its offspring.
As with previous forms of biological control, the project addresses current uses of biotechnology in reimagining our surrounding infrastructures, redefining interspecies exchanges in its understanding of health and safety.