Ólafur Elíasson is a light installation artist. I think what is really interesting about him and his work is how he looks at space and how he looks the relationship between the audience and the artwork to understand what kind of questions they will ask themselves when they are with the work.
The pieces that he shows in the video at the end of this post are really fascinating. The idea’s are really simple with the simplest of adaptations to spaces to allow each audience member to have different experiences and to encourage differences of opinion.
A lot of Elíasson’s work focuses on the horizon. He has displayed different adaptations of the piece that uses just a single LED strip that is placed central on the wall with the rest of the space in darkness. This allows the light the have a horizon effect. I think what I like about this piece of work is that it is constantly developing. One of my favourite displays of it was at the Louis Vuitton foundation event in 2015 where the floor was made to be slightly curved upwards. Instantly the audience have a connection with their feet to the installation. It also has a slightly reflectiveness about it that gives it a planetary feel.
other works that I think are really important is his piece Beauty. In this piece he has created a rainbow/coloured spectrum in the gallery space. With the use of a water hose with punctured spray holes, the light is then refracted through the misty water. What is really interesting about this piece is perspective. Each audience member is having a different experience and are viewing a different rainbow. I like this idea that the rainbow that we see in the photo below is different to the one the man in the photograph is seeing.
Light, space and colour are used in simple ways to create thought provoking work. The simplicity of Ólafur Elíassons work makes it more powerful. I like that he uses everyday thoughts and natural phenomenons and plays with then in a space – sometimes taking natural instinctive thoughts/perceptions and bringing them into different spaces. This can be seen with his waterfall piece that was installed under Manhattan Bridge. He uses the waterfall to allow the gap between time and space to close – allowing us to perceive distance and time in a different way. The slower a waterfall looks like it is fall the further away it is. This is natural human perception that we use to understand how far away something is. I think his use of these instinctive thoughts allows us to have a different sense of space and time – a much more natural one, rather than the fast paced world we are currently in.
For me, the one thing that I find really inspiring about Ólafure Elíasson is that how he intergrates light, space/environment and colour into his work to create some immersive experiences, or bringing experiences that you would have in a particular place – i.e. the waterfall – and brings it to somewhere where entirely unnatural for it. I think there is also an environment thought within his work where he is working with surroundings and design as well as using objects, such as his Green River (1998), in the natural landscape to create happenings.