A Mini Sun in the Tate

Olafur Eliasson’s Weather Project

Installation art has always intrigued me. The incorporation of multiple senses, sometimes all five, in order to create an experience is something I’m finding myself more and more fascinated with. There’s something about the idea of spaces that I’ve always found interesting. They are something that humans have continuously constructed, reinvented, decorated, personalized, repurposed, etc. Spaces are essential to our nature, we crave a specific comfort in shelter, and we’ve evolve in our creativity with how we construct them and what we do with them. As a kid, I would always be secretly annoyed when I would go to a friend’s house but was never able to see the upstairs. I love to see how people live, how they choose to decorate their own spaces and the objects they have inside of it. There is a consideration in those choices that allows for creative flow all its own. I wish every human had the opportunity to create their own installation room solely for the purpose of decorating with their personality and without any financial restrictions… I think it would be a spectacular way to get to know someone. This week I wanted to talk about a specific installation piece that captured my attention. It took place during 2003 in the Tate Modern in London.

Olafur Eliasson’s Weather Project consists of an installed object designed to look like the sun in the Turbine Hall of the Tate Modern. It’s true form is a semi-circle made of hundreds of small mono-frequency lamps with mirror foil placed above it to give the illusion that the sun is a complete circle. The mirror foils covered the entirety of the room’s ceiling so viewers would see their silhouetted forms in the reflection, which is what, according to Eliasson, completed the visual construction of his installation. The people were just as essential to the space as the sun, something that is unique to installation art. Other art forms certainly incorporate the viewer as a part of the experience, but nothing quite as explicitly as installation art.

Eliasson would include a fine mist to spread throughout the space, creating cloud-like formations around the room. Also, an interesting piece about mono-frequency lighting… they are the same kind of lights used in most street lamps! The frequency of light that the bulbs emit is so narrow that most other colors besides yellow and black appear invisible, giving the space a monochromatic effect.

There is something special to me about creating a 3D illusion in space, the semi-circle of the sun being a perfect example of this. I want to share a photo from Eliasson’s 2001 installation, The Mediated Motion, in which we see viewers on a bridge that spans across a room. It makes me wonder… imagine cresting a room of bridges or connecting platforms without any way to see how far the bottom is! Oh gosh, it makes me wonder why playgrounds were only designed for kids.

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