Sunday, 10 November 2019

Head in the clouds

Louvre Abu Dhabi has just opened another new temporary exhibition, "10,000 years of Luxury" and as a part of this exhibition there is a new cool installation in place, right beside the restaurant block -
It's called USO (=Unidentified Scented Object): The Perfumed Cloud.

I tried it out the other day when it wasn't very busy at the museum. You can only go three people at once, so at busy times I guess you have to queue for a little bit, but I walked straight in.

This olfactory installation is basically a room-sized glass box with nothing but a spiral staircase in the middle of it, which ascends through a cloud that hangs midway through the space.

You are supposed to climb the staircase to experience the fragrance, which is L'Envol by Cartier for men, infused with notes of citrus, gaiac wood and ambrosia. It an immersive and sensational experience of art, where you get to use four out of your five senses, inside this immaterial space.

'L'Envol' in French means go into the sky, 'vol' is flight. It's linked to the notion of elevating yourself. The word perfume also comes from the Latin word 'per fume', which means through smoke. In past times offerings to gods were made through burning woods - so the image of going through smoke, is a bit like going back to the roots.

A layer of cold air is produced in the lower part of the cube, and a layer of hot air in the upper part which keeps the cloud floating between these two strata.
It was quite a fascinating experience to walk those stairs up through the scented cloud, and what a perfect setting for this installation here on one of the floating platforms under the dome of the Louvre Abu Dhabi.

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