‘I see potential in the spectator – in the receiver, the reader, the participator, the viewer, the user.’ – Olafur Eliasson.
When standing within a gallery space, you are usually invited to view a series of objects, typically hanging on a wall or placed upon a stand. Generally before arriving at a gallery you may also have a basic understanding of these objects from various sources prior to your visit. ‘Take Your Time’ is unlike any other exhibition I have ever visited. The role of the subject viewing an object within a gallery space was one that I had become familiar with, but on this visit, it didn’t seem fit.
The topic of an ‘object not existing without a subject’ has often been debated, but it was while I stood in front of ‘Remagine’ (2002) that I really understood why this is so relevant within Olafur Eliasson’s work. A photographic still cannot begin to describe the effect that the simple use of light cast upon a wall has for the inhabitant. Theatrical lights rhythmically project two-dimensional shapes upon a white wall, creating an illusion of a three-dimensional space. As an inhabitant you experience these images along with a kind of visual echo, as the images are thoughtfully sequenced in time. Eliasson offers the audience a horizon, mimicking what we could see three-dimensionally if the opposing wall were transparent. This display evokes a sense of confusion, even though you are aware of the square room that surrounds you, you somehow feel there is a space beyond the solid white wall. Eliasson seems to have created ‘illusory architecture’; it is your reaction to this experience that forms the work itself.
360º room for all colours’ (2002), this installation completely immerses the viewer within the colour spectrum. Its 9′ high circular room bathes its audience with an undulating display of light. These colours race around the cylindrical wall, subtly chasing each other. This artwork manages to reorient your senses from your dependence on vision and you feel the artwork through the warmth of the light touching your skin. This installation blankets you within nature’s colour palette, referencing Eliasson’s photography stills in the following rooms.
Eliasson’s title ‘Take Your Time’, for this collection was fitting; in that I felt I wanted to inhabit these spaces for hours. In addition to ‘Remagine’ and ‘360º room for all colours’, there is also a room of one colour, where ‘mono-frequency lights render the entire contents of the room in shades of yellow and black’. Another room invites you to lean over and peer into a small hole and view the Sydney harbour as it is infinitely dissected within a giant kaleidoscope (‘sunset kaleidoscope’ 2005). While ‘Beauty’ 1993, consists of a darkened room, covered in black playground tiles where mist falls from the ceiling creating a rainbow curtain that you can walk through.
‘Take your time’ intimately involves its inhabitants. It is a carefully crafted series of experiences that makes you think. It challenges what you are seeing, what you are feeling and what you think you may already know. It is this effect that makes me believe Eliasson is truly unique in the world of spatial design. He creates environments that draw attention to one’s own sense of spatial awareness but his purpose cannot be truly realised until these spaces are experienced personally. If you have ever have the chance, take the time and experience Eliason’s work, it is truly inspirational.