The Madeleine captures the molecular information of a smell, much like a camera would record film.
Certain smells remind me of childhood: the scent of fresh bread that traveled down the street from a nearby bakery; or the hint of cedar in my dad's sweaters that I'd inhale when I'd press my nose into his shoulder to give him a hug. Today, when I'm out in the world and randomly get a whiff of one of these smells, I'm transported to a different time. Artist Amy Radcliffe wanted to find a way to call upon these scents at any moment, putting nostalgia at our fingertips. So she created Madeleine, an "analogue odour camera," which records scent much in the same way a 35mm camera would.
"Our sense of smell is believed to have a direct link to our emotional memory. It is the sense that we react to most instinctually and also the furthest away from being stored or replicated digitally. From ambient smell-scapes to the utterly unique scent of an individual, our scent memory is a valuable resource yet to be systematically captured and archived…From manipulating our emotional wellbeing through prescribed nostalgia, to the functional use of conditioned scent memory, our olfactory sense could take on a much more conscious role in the way we consume and record the world," Radcliffe says of her reasoning for creating such a device.
It works by placing an item whose scent you'd like to replicate, into the Madeleine, which then captures it, recording the molecular information of a smell. For a complete overview of the technology, check out the video below.
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