The Madeleine is, to all intents and purposes, an analogue odour camera. Based on current perfumery technology, Headspace Capture, The Madeleine works in much the same way as a 35mm camera. Just as the camera records the light information of a visual in order to create a replica The Madeleine records the chemical information of a smell.
If an analogue, amateur-friendly system of odour capture and synthesis could be developed, we could see a profound change in the way we regard the use and effect of smells in our daily lives. From manipulating our emotional well being 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.
Madeleine by Amy Radcliffe, a student at Central Saint Martins, is at its core a camera that captures scents in place of images. Considering how powerful that particular sense is when it comes to memories, it is only natural that some people would be attracted to the notion of being able to save it for nostalgia’s sake. Yet while recording visual memories has never been easier, odour-based ones have been left in the dust.
According to PSFK, Madeleine by Amy Radcliffe “draws on “headspace capture” techniques pioneered in the 1970s by Swiss fragrance chemist Roman Kaiser, for obtaining the composition of rare botanical scents for the perfume industry.” The retro design of the ‘camera’ references this 70s heritage in a striking way.