Smell Graffiti


While in Vienna earlier this month, I got the chance to get to know artist Mitchell Heinrich and his new “smell graffiti” project. What if instead of tagging a wall with paint, you tagged it with a scent? You could make a stinky subway platform smell like freshly cut grass. As an added bonus the scents are not permanent; they eventually evaporate leaving no trace.

Mitch explains:

Graffiti as a medium has remained largely unchanged since early humans were painting cave walls. The style and purpose has evolved over the centuries, but still nobody has successfully broken free of its visual nature. From this line of thinking smell graffiti has emerged. Harnessing modern chemistry and appropriating technology invented for industry I am working on a new way to make a statement in a public space.

Scent is interpreted by the limbic system which is very closely tied to emotion and memory. This leads me to believe that interacting with people using scent can potentially be a much more powerful medium than paint since people experiencing it can’t help but react to it. The goal of this project is to realize the potential of smell as art and to explore different ways of using it to interact with people.

Check on the step-by-step guide to creating your own smell graffiti cans at Instructables.

3 thoughts on “Smell Graffiti”

  1. Brilliant concept. I like that it’s not permanent. Great point made “Scent is interpreted by the limbic system which is very closely tied to emotion and memory”. The memory is an odd thing how it ties things together. Like if you get in a car accident while listening to a song, whenever you hear the song it will bring back memories of the crash.

    Now, in stead of thinking ‘ew, subway, homeless guys, public urination’ the memory of riding the subway can be something a lot better. Creating “art” (open to interpretation apparently) AND influencing/enhancing people’s lives. Well done!

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