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The excellence of Olafur


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Libby told you about Olafur Eliasson’s “Your Colour Memory” in her post.

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I’d like to add a few thoughts and pictures from the opening at Arcadia the other night. First off, there was a huge crowd and you had to stand in line to access the piece. Crowd control assistants (guy in cowboy hat) kept people from crowding in to what was a rather small, and warm, space.

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People look funny in some colors and not quite as funny in others. The more intense the color, the funnier everyone looks. Speaking of color intensity, at one intense red point I put my hand on the wall — you’re advised not to do this but I didn’t know that at the time, not that it would have stopped me — and my hand seemed to flatten out and melt into the wall. It gets that psychedelic.

And the piece is a wonderful people watching experience. As I tried to hold conversations with people, colors swinging wildly from lime green to laser red, I found it hard to concentrate and just began grinning. My mind — usually caught up in words — was occupied elsewhere. The lower order brain where colors stimulate response (red=fear, flight; blue=peaceful, stay) took over. I don’t think I drooled but if I did nobody mentioned it.

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Then there were the auras. In one particularly intense moment of pinkness, people had subtle but noticeable green auras.

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Once inside, nobody wanted to leave. It was a cross between not wanting to miss something and being completely happy in the moment. It was infantile, really, but I saw nobody who was having a miserable time. Also, people didn’t stay long in the black room provided to cool down your eyeballs. This was a crowd of artists…who wanted to cool down?

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Crowd behavior kicked in. At one point a person turned towards the inside wall and stared, quietly, for long enough to be observed by another person who then did the same thing. Pretty soon, a line of 10 people was turned in to the piece looking into the color void (and away from the people).

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It was when I myself turned and became part of the line looking into the… I think it was pink at the time…color field that I felt the piece’s spiritual leanings. The experience then became a solitary voyage into space.

I loved “Your Colour Memory” because it contained both a social, human aspect and because it allowed the other — more solitary — experience as well. It’s great, and be sure to go with a buddy.

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