An USO – Unidentified Scented Object – is a project in which olfaction, in other words the sense of smell, regains its rightful central place and all of its artistic functions. A sensorial installation designed to restore perfume to its full nature and arouse reflection, debate and curiosity. Imagined by Mathilde Laurent, the Maison Cartier’s perfumer-creator, Le Nuage Parfumé is a mix of olfaction, technology and dreams. A poetic cloud floats as if by magic in a transparent glass cube. Visitors are invited to enter into this closed space, then take a spiral staircase leading through the cloud. Once they reach the summit, it is not longer about seeing but about smelling the notes of L’Envol de Cartier.
Towards an architecture of the immaterial
Transsolar developed and realized the concept of the floating cloud, based on a precise manipulation of climatic conditions inside the glass cube. A stable thermal stratification of the air is created so that the cloud can be held in position even at dynamic environmental conditions – changing in a wide range of air temperature, humidity, wind and solar insolation. The cloud nicely separates two air volumes in the same space so that the fragrance can be diffused and perceived in the upper volume only.
First shown at a 2017 art fair outside the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, in 2019 the installation was being specially recreated for the ambient climate conditions in the Emirates. It was constructed on a floating platform on one of the water channels protected by the giant overarching roof at the Louvre Abu Dhabi. The extraordinary conditions for the operation close to the sea water table, exposed to wind and weather was extremely challenging. The floating platform of exact same dimensions as in Paris was hiding all technical installation equipment and a variety of sensors required to control the fragile cloud suspended midair.
The installation was running from October 30th in 2019 until the 18th of February 2020 as part of the exhibition 10,000 Years of Luxury and formed supposedly the first ever sensorial exhibit at the Louvre.