Scent Constellation – Spacial Sound Installation w/ Lasers, Smoke and (no) Scent

Hi Dear Forum,

I’d like to present a project I recently finished for London based Jason Bruges Studio. The software for this project is all written using libCinder.
The main reason writing about it (next to shameless self promotion) is to share three cinder blocks I wrote/used. I hope they come in useful to someone out there. The library descriptions are further down (… and feedback is very welcome).

Scent Constellation

‘Scent Constellation’ is a permanent installation commissioned by Le Grand Musée du Parfum in Paris.

The project is a multi-sensorial art piece that visualises the process of creating a perfume. A contemporary interpretation of the perfumer’s organ, the installation translates the elaborate perfume formulas into a spectrum of light and sound. Each glass prism in the organ represents a raw material used in perfumery and is associated with a specifically designed soundscape. Every sound in the organ has been composed in accordance to the type of ingredient it represents. The unique base tone, texture, or the evaporation time of the olfactory note is translated into every ingredient composition.

JBS ScentConstellation Fougere from dagny rewera on Vimeo.


When a perfume formula is chosen, the laser beams select with scientific precision the appropriate ingredients in the organ, simultaneously triggering the associated sound. As the light travels through the prisms, the beams bend exactly at 90 degrees, hitting the perfume flacon precisely in its centre. The highly precise setup of the installation represents the meticulous process of mixing a perfume, where the smallest mistake can hinder the delicate balance of the fragrance.

Interface using ciNanoGui

When the perfume formula is complete, the organ plays the composition of the final fragrance, magically illuminating the individual ingredients and the centre vial. This creates an elaborate crystalline pattern occupying the space. Each composition has its own unique characteristic, with some notes swiftly vanishing almost unnoticed, to others lingering in the air, as in the science of perfume. Each of the five compositions visualised in the installation corresponds to the fragrance formula representing a broader perfume family. The families represented are: Oriental, Floral, Fougere, Chypre and Cologne. As the formulas can be very complex or quite minimalistic, the sound compositions have varying densities and different shades of sound to represent that.

Tool analysing each sound of a composition

This installation is a part of the permanent exhibition at the Grand Musee du Parfum, 73 rue du faubourg Saint-Honoré in Paris. You can visit it during regular opening hours.


Concept & Design: Dagny Rewera (Jason Bruges Studio)
Composition & Sound Design: Daniel Sonabend (
Technical Director: Tom Siddall (Jason Bruges Studio)
System Design & Software (&Laser!): Vincent Rebers (

These are the cinder blocks:



The Hoa Library (High Order Ambisonics) allows you to place sounds spatially in 2D and 3D based on Ambisonics. Cinder-HOA is a wrapper for this library using cinders amazing audio api (Thank you Rich.e. I learnt so much from it.).
The Hoa-Node element is based on the ChannelRouterNode. It takes all valid audio nodes as input, processes the special arrangement and channels these as outputs. The examples included show you how to use binaural audio or multi speaker setups with all kinds of inputs.

Each sound in Scent Constellation has a very specific spatial location. It is based on

Repository with more info lives here:



This block is a wrapper for Hokuyo Lidar sensors using their own library. It extends the original library by adding the possibility to define areas of interest. These trigger events if an object is infront, inside, or behind these areas.

I used this block as an additional safety feature. It will shut down the laser in case someone crosses a certain line. It also controls the installation. Defined zones will start and stop the process of the scent selection.

Repository with more info lives here:



Cinder-Ilda is a block to control Ilda-capable laser projectors.
This was originally written to send genomes in to space (

Repository with more info lives here:


Fantastic work and awesome blocks! Thanks for sharing them with the community.

Really beautiful, congratulations!

Very cool! Thanks for sharing.

(I certainly do wish I had the permits required to operate lasers. While understandable for safety reasons, it does seem to be a very complicated licensing process here in NYC.)

Good point @num3ric .

I should elaborate more about the safety aspects of the project.

Lasers are cool but they are no toys. And you need to put quite a lot of thoughts in to using them in a permanent installation.

Safety was above all in this project. We put a lot of effort in to the design so it would do both, follows the concept of the idea and follows certain safety rules. I should mention that I have a Laserschutzbeauftrager-Schein, isn’t German great? So I did the training which takes quite a lot of the fun using lasers during the lessons as you realise that almost everything is unsafe. And even worse, once you have that certificate you are obliged to set in when you see dangerous laser situations. Going to burning man becomes a stressful challenge.

So some details of the safety measures we took:

  • The laser source is at least 2 meters away from the audience.

  • The laser is set up to point away from the audience, avoiding the possibility of direct impact. All the materials used are mat to avoid focused reflections.

  • There is an industrial light curtain that is linked directly to the laser. It is setup so anyone getting closer than 1.5 m to the laser will cut the laser safety switch (Hardware kill switch). You will need a key to turn it back on.

  • The lidar (cinder-urg) has one zone setup that will turn off the laser as soon as you get too close. (Software kill switch)

  • There is a kill-switch in the audience area.

  • And we are using quite a lot of haze to make the beam visible but also to weaken it

The installation is running now since December and the only issue we had so far is people breaking the light curtains when trying to take closeup pictures. Btw taking good pictures of lasers is another topic. For filming we constantly changed the frequency of the laser depending on the amount of rays each composition had. This worked out sometimes better and sometimes not at all. But you will get some quite crazy effects playing with settings.


Awesome work! Thanks for the blocks and all the background on using lasers in a public installation.

Really awesome project, I so wish I could see / hear it in person. And glad that ci::audio worked out for you. The ambisonics block (and Hoa) look incredibly useful. I wish it wasn’t GPL’ed :/, but then I guess it still has its utility in installations like this one. Excellent work and thanks for the writeup!


What was the power ratings of the lasers you used?


It is a 3000mW full RGB laser by Kvant from Slovenia. Those guys improved their quality a lot since I first worked with one of their lasers. It comes with all of the necessary safety features and the beam quality and scanners are reasonable for the price.