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Installation 45: Smell Squiggles Breathe Life to Images




Universal visual squiggles can communicate direct, heretic qualities of smell - stink, stunk, smell and fragrance can be communicated with the deft wiggle or stroke of a pen.


The wafteron (also spelled waftarom) is a simple technique used by comics illustrators to express the smell of something. Cartoonists that use wavy lines in this fashion make it possible for readers to infer that a particular object or living thing is smelly. Although this is similar to indotherm, the two terms differ by what the lines in the image indicate: for indotherm, it’s heat, but for wafteron, it’s smell.


A wafteron is part of a larger group of symbols in cartoons called emanata. Emanata are unrealistic pictorial elements emanating from a character, symbolizing something about that character, such as a sweatdrop for anxiety or a question mark for confusion, or emanating from an object, such as heat rays from the sun.


Thank you Caro Verbeek for sharing this word with the Odorbet! Caro is currently writing an article about visual depiction of smells. The article is forthcoming and will be in Dutch.


Reference and Images courtesy the Comic Book Glossary.


Caro Verbeek is an embedded researcher of olfactory heritage at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Rijksmuseum and International Flavours & Fragrances. Trained as an art historian she specialises in sensory art and education in museums, art academies and universities.






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