Eat it with your eyes!
Tofu begins with a shirty email to the editor:
727 XO: I just finished my article, but when I pasted the text into a possible grid system to test the page length, the characters were replaced by some kind of empty blank squares.
Those blank squares, the editor writes back, are called “TOFU” in computer-speak: “This is a common problem when using a Latin- letter font not compatible with East Asian Writing Systems — Meanings are visually lost”.
A magazine about East Asian culture that is made in Copenhagen, it’s significant that Tofu starts by acknowledging what gets lost in translation. Made by a creative team who have personal ties to East Asia — through work, education or family — the idea behind the magazine is to showcase work that documents cultural exchange. Tofu is about the dialogue between east and west.
What’s fascinating about the magazine is that different languages — Danish, English, Korean, Chinese and Japanese — are printed throughout, with no effort made at translation. So many peculiarities of a culture are encapsulated by the quirks of its language, creative director Martin Wendelbo Rasmussen explains over the phone, that he chose to leave those languages intact. Of course, this means that only a very few readers will be able to understand everything in the magazine. But it makes the experience of flicking through fantastically dynamic: different cultures clash and coincide typographically on almost every page.
The imagery in this magazine is superb. One of my favourite pieces is captioned ‘EAT IT WITH YOUR EYES!’, about the plates of hyper-realistic plastic food used by restaurants to advertise dishes. Known as “shokuhin sampuru”, the plates are made by dedicated artisans, who train for 10 years to create the most difficult piece: the fish. There’s also a wonderful series by Taekyun Kim of people sleeping, and kinky photographs of a woman cradling her lover like a baby.