“The most beautiful and deepest experience a man can have is the sense of the mysterious. It is the underlying principle of religion as well as all serious endeavor in art and science. He who never had this experience seems to me, if not dead, then at least blind. . . . To sense that behind anything that can be experienced there is something that our mind cannot grasp and whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly and as a feeble reflection, this is religiousness. In this sense I am religious. To me it suffices to wonder at these secrets and to attempt humbly to grasp with my mind a mere image of the lofty structure of all that is there.” — Albert Einstein
Richard Feynman on beauty. I’ll let the video speak for itself.
The Feynman Series is a companion project with The Sagan Series, a collection of videos that pays tribute to the man that brought astrophysics (and science in general) to the masses – Carl Sagan. (And if you’re not familiar with the series, you owe it to yourself to check it out immediately, starting with this).
Artist Olafur Eliasson’s exhibitions are all about you. Not only do they provide a heightened sense of self, but they also literally would not be complete without you. Eliasson’s work is all about interaction. His installations call you to participate. Former senior curator at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Madeleine Grynsztejn calls Eliasson “an artist who wants to expose how wonder is made”.
I saw Eliasson’s “Take Your Time” installation at the Dallas Museum of Art close to two years ago. It is easily the most unique collection of art I have ever seen.
The first piece of work encountered is an electric fan hanging on a cord from the ceiling, using its own moving blades to propel it across the room. The cord swings just above head level – low enough to alarm you.
The fan’s ever-changing, unpredictable arcs provide a striking metaphor for perception in motion. Eliasson engages in an ongoing exploration of subjectivity, reflection, and the fluid boundary between nature and culture, revealing the degree to which reality is constructed and helping us to reflect more critically on our experience of it.” ~Roxana Marcoci and Klaus Biesenbach
Eliasson enables you to experience art with all of your senses, just as you would in nature. His work creates a social sphere. You are not just standing in front of a work of art. You are inside the work. You are actively engaged. Looking becomes an experience.
In “Room for one colour,” monofrequency lights eliminate every wavelength except yellow. Everyone in the room appears colorless. The white walls of the room next to you appear blue, due to an involuntary neurological response.
My favorite of Eliasson’s installations is called “Beauty”. It is an installation that can be easily missed if you do not take your time and explore the collection. One room in the collection has about 5 black squares on its walls. I approached one of the squares and noticed a muggy smell. I reached out my hand and discovered that this was not just another square on the wall — it was a dark, hidden tunnel leading into another room. As I followed the tunnel into the room, the smell became more pungent and I began to see a soft light. “Beauty” features a spotlight shining on a curtain of fine mist in an otherwise darkened room, producing a gossamer rainbow visible from certain angles. The rainbow looks different to all who see it. The hose creating the mist is plain to see.
Eliasson separates himself from other artists doing similar installations because he exposes the mechanisms by which the effects are produced. This does not make the work any less magnificent. You become more conscious of more aspects of yourself and you become aware of how it is that you are seeing. Olafur Eliasson reminds us to participate in our world. Or not. I think Eliasson just wants us to be a little more aware of ourselves.