Printed magazines appeal most readily to the senses of sight and touch, sound can play a minor role according to the crispness and weight of the paper, and tasting the pages is generally best avoided, however mouth-watering the photography. Until now, though, smell has been rather overlooked.
Yes, uncoated paper can absorb large amounts of ink that give a new magazine a heavy smell that appeals to some, including me, and the scent samples in women’s titles lend them a coarse over-sweet smell. But these are incidental.
Every issue of Berlin-based mono.kultur carries an interview with and samples of one person’s art or design work, and each time the form of the magazine changes. Their latest issue, out this month, carries the work of Norwegian smell artist Sissel Tolaas.
She has used inks impregnated with odours throughout the magazine to make it literally stink – rub the pages and the smells she has created are released. I haven’t had my nose on a copy yet but the publisher warns the smells won’t be pleasant, meaning something a little stronger than a fragrance sample I assume.