Elementary, My Dear Olafur

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I had seen the image of Olafur Eliasson’s “Weather Project,” a steam and light show (pictured here) in the Tate Modern Turbine Hall at greg.org and so when I talked to Arcadia’s Dick Torchia the other day I asked about what the Danish-born artist had planned for Philadelphia (Eliasson’s PEI-funded project will run at Arcadia from Aug-Dec 2004.)

So what’s the weather man bringing with him?

According to Torchia, the Arcadia project, which is in some flux, is not about climate but about perception, another theme in the artist’s work. It involves two small, circular, mylar-coated chambers, one of which will use RGB lamps to reflect all the colors of the rainbow and stimulate the eyes to overload. The other, a kind of eye cleansing station, will somehow deprive the eye of all that color thus forcing the viewer’s retina to create an afterimage. It’s internalizing the art taken to another level.

“It’s a feedback system. You go to the ends of color perception and then get cleansed,” said Torchia. “There’s Turrell in it….” Maybe some Dan Flavin, too? I’m remembering some Flavin light chambers at DIA a while back that made my retinas dance.

Eliasson’s piece here will be based on “Room for All Colors” but Torchia says the artist will be adapting the piece to the Arcadia space, so we’ll have to see what we get.

Libby and I saw Eliasson’s steam geyser piece, “Your natural denudation inverted” (see image) at the Carnegie International in 2000. It was pretty underwhelming, looked like nothing more than a fountain with a reflecting pool. But I sure like the idea of eyeball aerobics.

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