A scent journey by Artist Devon Baur


Sunscreen. 76.3% of survey takers reported this scent brought on memories immediately. The memories for 78.4% of all survery takers were generals as opposed to specific.

The wordcloud presented was generated using the narratives written by the survey takers when prompted to smell sunscreen. The most commonly used words were summer, beach, and always.


“I remembered summers at summer camp from when I was a kid. The emotions I associate it with are very exciting and happy memories. I can remember the suffocating smell of sunscreen due to the 50 or so kids trying to apply spray on sunscreen all at the same time. The memory is kind of faint, but I can remember being on the grass and talking with camp friends.” 7 or 9 years ago
“Sunscreen reminds me of summer days at the softball field. I vividly remember standing in the dugout and applying sunscreen after a drill. The dirt made the sunscreen application annoying. One small detail I can remember is just the smell mixture of softball dirt and sunscreen. I was about 13 years old.” 2015
“Smelling sunscreen reminds me of the times when I was a teenager and I would go to the beach with my friends and we would go boogie boarding. Also reminds me of all of the times spent at the beach with my children and lathering it on them so they can enjoy the beach. “ 8 years ago
“The smell of sunscreen takes me back to when I was as young as 4 years old and up to the age of 12. I played tennis my whole life and sometimes practiced twice a day. I would play tournaments every weekend and the smell of sunscreen takes me back to all the tournaments. My mom would always lather me up with sunscreen so I wouldn't get darker and I remember always hating it but at the same time feeling a sense of nostalgia.” Ages 4-12 (2004-2012)
“This memory is from my childhood. Not much detail, but I remember going to the beach in Ludington, MI and I remember my mom putting way too much sunscreen on me. I remember not liking the way it felt on my wet skin and not being able to rub it in all the way.” Date Unknown
“We were still in elementary school and we were getting ready to go on my grandpa's boat. We were very excited because we loved the boat. I remember getting lathered up before we could go on the boat because it was sunny. Then we had to go pick out a life jacket. That was always fun because whoever got to the bin first always got the best one.” Date Unknown
“On a boat with my dad, I wanted some bug spray because the water brings mosquitos on really bad. I remember having to dig through the boat to find it and it was in the piss bucket and wanting to vomit after finding it there. But my dad assured me that it wasn’t used and it had been cleaned out. The sunscreen that I used smelled of intense alcohol thus most likely resembled that smell more than the times of used sunscreen.”  2015
“Most sunscreens have a similar scent. I am pale and as far as I can remember, my mom has been slathering sunscreen on me. I always think of the coppertone pink sunscreen bottle from when I was little with the little girl and the dog biting her bum.” Unclear (Summers of my Life)
“Smelling sunscreen reminds me of putting on sunscreen in the car as we drive to soccer practice. These memories are from when I was around 10 years old, and the emotions it generates are anticipation and reluctance (since I didn't like putting on sunscreen). I remember the greasy feeling of the sunscreen and looking at the clock in the car to see how long I had to put it on before we arrived at practice. I remember my friends talking around me, and the feel of the leather beneath my legs.” Date Unknown
“I remember standing in the extremely hot sand of a beach in Crete while my sister was helping me get sunscreen on my back. I could see my dad already had his sunscreen on and was ready to go into the water. I felt excited to finally get back in the ocean after not being in the ocean for almost a year. My mom and my sister stayed behind to read magazines and sunbathe on the beach chairs.” August 2018
“In the beginning of summer, (this year as an 18 year old), I remember putting on sunscreen while helping my father with a roof job. I remember the distinct smell of my skin mixed with the sunscreen and shingle rocks (from the roof)” 5/2021
“It reminded me of all of the soccer events where I would apply sunscreen before the game. This is a memory from when I was little to the present day. When I was younger I was always annoyed with having to put on sunscreen. It is a pretty broad memory, but I remember my mom slathering it over her hands and just grabbing my face and not even rubbing the sunscreen in.” 2010-2021
“I was about 6 years old when I began swimming at my grandmother's pool. The emotion that I associate with sunscreen is excitement. There's nothing like the anticipation of going into the water. When I was younger, I never really cared to put on sunscreen but my mom and grandmother would make me put on sunscreen before I went into the pool. Small details that come to mind when I think of this memory is the feeling of a fresh towel on my skin and the smell of chlorine.” 2002
“When I smell sunscreen, I think of putting sunscreen on at the beach. My family used to go to Hammock Beach every year with our extended family, and we would often use lotion sunscreen while we were still in the hotel room before trekking down to the beach. It was usually ordeal because there were a lot of us kids, and it would just take a long time to get down there. I don't have any one specific memory of it, and I just picture the family suites that we would stay in and put up my leg on a chair to apply sunscreen on my legs. It brings back feelings of both annoyance and anticipation. Anticipation because I love the ocean, and annoyance because I wanted the family to hurry up so we could get to the beach faster.” 2010
“The scent of sunscreen (target brand) reminds me of times at the beach with my cousins. We would wake up early in the morning, and after a breakfast of honey bunches of oats and reading at the table, we would moan about the prospects of slathering ourselves with the thick, sticky lotion. I had eczema on the insides of my elbows and the backs of my knees, so I always hated the sting of rubbing in sand or excess lotion. I was fairly young, and these memories started when I was five years old and carried the memories every year until middle school.” Early July


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.