A scent journey by Artist Devon Baur



“I think of me and my friends planting trees in front of their house when we were kids. I was like 7 years old. There was a feeling of amusement and excitement. The memory is very vivid, I can still remember all my surroundings and the entire layout of the area I was in. Small details I can remember are some of the stuff me and my friends were talking about.” 2012
“The smell of (wet) dirt reminds me of late nights at the soccer fields. Specifically, running up and down this hill for conditioning. It is a pretty vivid memory and one small detail I remember is my discomfort and fatigue. I was about 10 years old.” 2013
“I have many memories of my dad coming home after work. He was a hard working man and his work clothes were always dirty. I have a strong sense of comfort and home associated with the smell of dirt.” Late 1980s Early 1990s
“The smell of dirt reminds me of when my father and I redid our entire front yard in our old house. I helped dig the holes for where we wanted to plant the bushes, flowers, etc and then I got to fill the holes once they were in. This also creates a sense of sadness because we don't do things like that anymore.” 8 years old
“Dirt has always been a favorite :) I have a memory of myself and my friend (now boyfriend) running through the forest. I remember falling, and getting dirt in my mouth. I can hear that gurgly laugh he does sometimes, where it sounds like he's gargling water. I can also kinda feel the dirt in my teeth too.” October 2017
“I remember being at my great grandmother's house growing up and helping her with her garden on the side of the house. She always was planting new flowers for the different seasons and I can remember listening to her talk about her life growing up as she would have me pass her the flowers as she dug. I don’t know how old I was, this happened throughout my childhood. It’s vivid as a memory, but feels a bit unreliable.” Date Unknown
“The smell of dirt reminds me of gardening with my grandmother. We had a small, fenced-in plot of dirt that my family didn't know what to do with. My grandmother came one afternoon, laden down with small sprouts of beans, tomatoes, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, peppers, zucchini, and squash. I was so incredibly excited because my mom had always told me to wish on my eyelashes that fell from my eyes, and I always wished for a vegetable garden. My grandmother fulfilled the wish she didn't even know I had.” 5/15
“My mom, my brother, and I were out planting our garden for this year. (Summer of 2021) We were really excited because we had just built a new garden box over quarantine and wanted to fill it. We had decided previously to plant sedum in the box so they would come back year after year. It was some very nice family time.” Spring/Early Summer of 2021
“It smelled like vanilla, no memory really other than my vanilla ones of vanilla. Such as the vague memories of my mothers baking or the times I’ve baked. Not very vivid but I was also puzzled by the fact that the dirt in my plant’s pot smells like vanilla.” Throughout my 17 years of Life
“Hmm, I feel like I smell dirt in many memories. Mainly, childhood because I was always playing outside and my grandparents had a huge garden where they grew many vegetables. Nowadays, I have a few little plants in my apartment and I have dirt for potting. That association is less strong.” Date Unknown
“I remember dancing at a party next to a field and we knocked up a bunch of dust that made everyone have dirt up their noses. The smell also makes me remember my cousins and I watch my grandpa kill the thanksgiving turkey in his dusty ranch.” Few Months Ago (First Memory) Last Year Thanksgiving (Second Memory) 
“Every year of high school I competed in the mountains and dirt automatically reminds me of it. I would spend my days hiking, collecting data, measuring/identifying trees, and talking to my friends and professionals.” Fall 2017-2019
“I remember helping my dad plant some beautiful flowers and various other plants around the tombstones of my Yia-Yia and Popou. While it was a sad experience to have to be reminded that both of my grandparents were no longer physically with me, it was nice to know that their graves would look beautiful for everyone to see. I was hot and sweaty but felt somewhat energetic running back and forth from the car to the graves to fetch plants and plant them in the ground. My dad helped me along the way with where to plant the flowers and how to place them so the most number of flowers pointed outward, away from the graves.” July of 2021
“I was 4 or 5 years old when the smell of dirt was the most vivid to me. For some reason I remember the mornings of my childhood being more dewy and smelling more earthy. When I would wake up in the cold morning and go to school I loved walking through my front yard and smelling the wet dirt. This smell was a part of my routine and it brings back emotions of nostalgia and appreciation for my youth.” 1999
“When I smell dirt I think of Pleasantdale, the soccer fields I played on growing up. We used to do sit ups and push ups in the grass, but it wasn't the best grass so we were often basically on dirt. The emotion I associate with it is nostalgia and also exhaustion (because the push ups and sit ups made me tired). There isn't a certain memory I immediately associate with the smell, but when I start thinking about those times I think about the time my friend and I basically rolled around laughing instead of doing the push ups and sit ups.”  2012


Smemory Theater is a short film that offers an abstraction of the survey results melded with personal experience. The narrative explores the gaps in memory that emerge from anosmia.