Palace of Versailles, 2016
by Olafur Eliasson
An ephemeral work that changes in appearance according to the qualities of the sunlight and the wind, Fog assembly produces a continual outpouring of swirling mist that dissolves the boundaries and outlines of the objects it encounters. This lively cloud, emitted from a vast ring positioned several metres above the grassy lawn of the pentagonal Bosquet de l’Etoile, invites visitor’s active engagement and participation.
Materials: steel, water, nozzles, pump system
Dimensions: 4.5, ø 29 m
When I first thought about the new project "interact", Olafur Eliasson was the first artist that came to my mind. In my opinion his work has a strong interaction with the viewer and by visiting his exhibitions I always had the feeling of being part of the artwork. I especially like his huge installations outside which are aestethically beautiful but also gives the viewer the opportunity to have a very special experience. It must be also overwhelming standing in the fog assembly at his current exhibition at the Palace of Versailles. I think that Olafur Eliasson through his artwork interacts with the viewer in an indirect way by making the viewer part of the work.
And I also think that he needs the viewer of the exhibitions to bring the artwork to live. Especially the fog assembly seems to be much more mysterious with people walking in the foggy surrounding and giving the whole piece a meaning. They are bringing life into the installation and movement, too. That is what makes Eliasson's work so special.
Olafur Eliasson’s art is driven by his interests in perception, movement, embodied experience, and feelings of self. Eliasson strives to make the concerns of art relevant to society at large. Art, for him, is a crucial means for turning thinking into doing in the world. Eliasson’s diverse works – in sculpture, painting, photography, film, and installations – have been exhibited widely throughout the world. Not limited to the confines of the museum and gallery, his practice engages the broader public sphere through architectural projects and interventions in civic space.
Eliasson was born in 1967. He grew up in Iceland and Denmark and studied, from 1989 to 1995, at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. In 1995, he moved to Berlin and founded Studio Olafur Eliasson, which today encompasses some ninety craftsmen, specialised technicians, architects, archivists, administrators, programmers, art historians, and cooks.
These first developments of the idea for the fog assembly are very interesting in my opinion. It shows how the artist's ideas are based on simple concepts, even they are of massive size at the final outcome. And in the simplicity of the ideas also lies their beauty. I like that his ideas are based on simple concepts that are transformed into huge, storytelling objects. An other example of this phenomenon is the waterfall, also installed in the garden of the palace of Versailles.
Another example of Olafur Eliasson's interactive work, exhibited at Stockholm's Moderna Museet in 2015. Here he created a sculpture installed at a white wall with two different coloured lights on it, so the shadows thrown have different colour. It invited the visitor to explore these shadows, too by touching the stone and at the same time creating more colourful shadows on the white wall.
I think this way of interaction with the viewer is very well chosen. Because it is allowed to touch the viewer can find out and explore the installation and how the two different coloured shadows form. It gives the viewer the possibility to experience the idea of the work on their own and is therefore also very memorable.
Life-size video artworks exploring choreography and the human form
Presence consists of a series of large-scale video pieces of motion-captured dance performances that create abstract forms with a human presence. A collaboration with choreographer Benjamin Millepied and the LA Dance Project, the work continues Universal Everything’s line of enquiry into the essence of choreography, movement and the human form.
Presence turns the screen into a stage, the body into an abstracted sculpture. Experimenting with various materials and forms, the life-sized moving sculptures cycle through a randomised collection of “costumes” that range from colorful light trails to crystalline formations, with only the movement revealing the human presence within.
Carl Sagan, the noted astronomer, scientist and author, once famously wrote about how the human brain is hard-wired to identify human faces. This phenomena, known as pareidolia, likely developed as an evolutionary survival strategy and is one of the reasons we perceive animal shapes in cloud formations or see a man in the moon.
The human tendency to recognize patterns and devise meaningful connections from seemingly random shapes or data is a trait that’s been exploited by artists longer than we’ve had the scientific rationale to explain it. As it turns out, we are in effect neurologically predisposed to interpret abstract shapes and formations, to infer scenes and stories from their fragmented clues—something that the fathers of Cubism and Abstraction, like Duchamp, Picasso and Kandinsky, all knew and understood implicitly.
UK-based creative studio Universal Everything continues to investigate these ideas through works that explore abstraction, anthropomorphism, transfiguration and the essence of the human form. Taken collectively, their body of work is a study of our most primal emotional triggers—the power of moving images and sound to produce profound synaesthetic experiences; the quest to distill life into its most fundamental, abstract forms; the celebration of gesture, human movement and the beautiful simplicity of the drawn line.
the piece investigates the limits of minimalist and maximalist abstraction. Using motion-tracking technology, dancers’ movements were captured as they performed choreographed responses to musical compositions of varying intensity. Their movements are subsequently manipulated and abstracted into animated sculptural forms that only hint at their origins.
In the gallery space, visitors find themselves surrounded by four large-scale projections displaying life-size moving sculptures—the dancers have been removed from the scene and their presence is inferred only through the trails of movement they leave behind. Cycling through a variety of “digital costumes,” as Universal Everything’s founder and creative director Matt Pyke terms them, the animated forms are alternately cloaked in designs that range from the utmost simplicity to frenetic, noisy complexity. One moment they’re reduced to a series of dots against a black background, the next they’re submerged in a cacophony of vigorous scrawls.
“We wanted to see, how far can you abstract things and still see the human presence inside? Can you still feel the soul inside there?” explains Matt Pyke. “When you see the work, it’s not always immediately obvious that you’re looking at a person. We wanted to have a level of discovery when audiences notice the human form.”
A primal aesthetic pervades the piece—Universal Everything drew inspiration from tribal patterns and ancient graphics when developing the designs of the “digital costumes” and utilized rhythmic, primitive tones for the music composition. This, coupled with the work’s unrelenting attempt to reduce the human body to its most elemental forms, to distill the very essence of life, to investigate every formal and emotional possibility in the representation of the human body, leaves the viewer with the impression that the artists, true to their name, are seeking to identify the universal in everything. To some extent, their work is an ongoing attept to unearth and harness a fundamental kernel of truth that transcends barriers and links all of humanity.
The human is central to Universal Everything’s work, and perhaps nowhere is this more apparent than in the piece 1000 Hands, a large-scale crowd-sourced installation that sits in the heart of the exhibition. A semi-transparent circular screen located in the center of the gallery space hums with the activity of hundreds of dancing forms moving in sync with one another in a kind of visual chorus. Visitors are invited to contribute to this collection of animated creatures via a custom mobile application they can download on their own devices or through devices provided by the museum.
Each visitor lays down a drawn gesture using the mobile touch-screen. This drawn line is then animated and extrapolated into a dancing form via custom generative software, which evolves the form based on the viewer’s initial input. Operating under a uniform set of artistic constraints and parameters, and unified by a common dancing rhythm, the drawn animations begin to seem as a kind of digital species—possessing similar traits and characteristics they are interconnected, yet each distinctly different and unique.
the work of art in collaboration with the audience initiates a dialogue between the artists, the visitors, and the museum space itself
A Performance by you and your followers
"Disciples" is an interactive artwork by Universal Everything, which brings your Twitter followers to life. Visualised as human figures, custom artificial intelligence software triggers crowd hysteria around you. The desire to gain more followers presents a growing addiction for virtual admiration and acknowledgement – from known, unknown and sometimes fake personas. Every move you make influences the crowd, an ever-changing mass choreography, your ego becomes the focus.
To start enter any Twitter username using the lift joystick and press A to select
To delete, press B
Walk around using the left joystick
Each performance lasts 2 minutes
To exit the session press X
This interactive artwork lets the viewer itself become the artist. By entering a Twitter name and controlling playing field, the person in control can guide the person on the display (who owns the Twitter account) and therefore also his followers. The person on the screen is surrounded by all his followers on twitter. I think to visualize this digital number of followers on a social media platforms such as Twitter and to visually express the influence of Twitter on crowd of people very successful. It is even terrifying to see and experience this influence, because the viewer himself controls the scenario. In my opinion Universal Everything has used the strategy of letting the viewer become part of the artwork extremely successful. The idea behind this installation, to bring your Twitter followers to life and to show that every move you make influences the crowd is expressed very strong through the interactive elements. By using the viewers personal Twitter account and letting him express how many people he is influencing, and including him in the idea, is a very strong tactic to make the experience more memorable.
A collaborative animation project by Universal Everything & 3383 people
first shown in 2014 at Digital Revolution at The Barbican Centre, London
Together is a collaboration between Universal Everything and the audience, bringing together two fundamental parts of the studio’s process: drawing and rule-based creation. The work explores the notion that every person conceives a unique response to the same challenge.
A bespoke web app presents the audience with a limited shape and colour palette, encouraging them to create short animated loops in response – as simple as drawing on paper. The minimal toolset enables the audience to duplicate a frame, onion skin, trace over a guide frame, and erase or delete a frame. These audience-created contributions will be shown in a gallery of multiple works looping concurrently, creating a wall of individual animations that are a collective response to the aesthetics and rule-based limitations presented to them. This work continues the studio’s exploration into methods of generative design. Their role as artists is to define the instructional ‘seed’ which ‘grows’ infinite visual variations often using custom software, and now through the engagement with the public as creators of the outcome. The results are a compelling consequence of the unpredictability of the human touch, revealing the inventiveness and diversity with which we work with limited resources.
Drawing is the foundation upon which Universal Everything’s work is built and a fundamental part of the studio’s process. Not only did Pyke study botanical and technical illustration, but drawing is one of the oldest forms of both human expression and communication. It is considered the ultimate method to express ideas and creativity. Furthermore, drawing is measured as the most revealing record of artistic creativity, offering the most direct expression of the artistic self. Acknowledging that everyone can draw, making everyone an artist, Universal Everything assumes that their app combining the process of drawing within a set of aesthetic rules will reveal a link, a pattern, a coherency between all submitted drawings by the public – regardless of the cultural and geographic background from which each drawing might originate.
Matt Pyke: “Self-imposed aesthetic rules reduce your freedom of interpretation, and yet, one can be incredibly inventive with restricted ingredients. I am interested to find out how the public will deal with such a challenge; what the general human response is to a shared problem.”
Universal Everything is a digital art and design collective, inventing new forms of moving image for the screens of the future. These are often multi-sensory experiences, combining video, sound, light, architecture and interaction. Their approach combines humanity and technology to stimulate emotions, sensations and participation
Video installation in real life size in exhibition space
Accordingly, the exhibition itself requires the visitor’s participation in order to be completed.
“By handing the power of creation over to the audience, the work only exists because of them,” explains Matt Pyke. “Releasing the work into the wild causes unpredictable, surprising outcomes. Our role as artists is to define the boundaries within which the work exists. Creating parameters for rhythm, colour, movement and form constructs a narrow playground for the audience. This point of tension between control and freedom is what brings the exhibition to life.”
The 8 disciples of Simon
The 26265838 disciples of Kayne West
Limits of Known Territorys
‘Limits of a Known Territory’ is a site-specific installation by Troika shown for the first time at NC-arte in Bogotá, transforming more than 200 square meters of the foundation space into a crepuscular, seemingly abandoned environment, flooded with water. The gallery echoes with the variable sound of eleven streams of water dripping from the ceiling, behaving in different and unfamiliar ways: some are frozen in time, others running slower, faster or in reverse. The visitor navigates the space by walking over stepping-stones scattered across the floor.
The subjective and intangible experience of time is made physical by the controlled choreography of the varying speeds and illogical directionality of the water streams. These assume in the empty space of the gallery the somewhat architectural value of liquid pillars while imbuing the space with a visual sense of rhythm.
Drawing upon Troika’s interest in the connections between randomness and the exercise of control, ‘Limits of a Known Territory’ becomes the simulation of a parallel reality or the stage for a glitchy futuristic reminiscence of what might once have been a casual occurrence.
Through interaction Troika created a very special and close experience for the audience. Due to the stepping-stones scattered across the floor the viewer becomes part of the exhibition and gets surrounded by the dripping water. The idea of the intangible experience of time, made physical by the controlled choreography of the varying speeds and illogical directionality of the water streams, comes alive through the interaction with the viewer. The strategy to builds paths through the exhibition to get the viewer closer and around the installation is definitely an element that makes the work more memorable - and it also underlines the idea of the project.
Troika is a collaborative contemporary art practice formed by Eva Rucki, Conny Freyer and Sebastien Noel in 2003.
With a particular interest in perception and spatial experience, their collective works challenge our prescriptions of knowledge, control, and what it means to be human in an age of technology. Troika's work is exhibited in London, Chicago, New York and Israel, and many more.
Big Air Package
Big Air Package, a project for the Gasometer Oberhausen, Germany, was conceived in 2010 and is on view from March 16 to December 30, 2013.
The sculpture is installed inside the Gasometer. It is made from 20,350 square meters (219,000 square feet) of semitransparent polyester fabric and 4,500 meters (14,800 feet) of polypropylene rope. The inflated envelope is 90 meters (295 feet) high, with a diameter of 50 meters (164 feet), a volume of 177,000 cubic meters (6,250,000 cubic feet) and a total weight of 5,300 kilograms (11,700 pounds).
The Gasometer was built in 1928/29 to store the blast furnace gas that is generated as a by-product of the industrial processing of iron ore. It is one of the largest gas tanks in the world, 117 meters (384 feet) high by 68 meters (223 feet) in diameter.
Big Air Package can be experienced from the outside and inside. It nearly spans the distance from wall to wall of the Gasometer, leaving only a small passage to walk around the sculpture. Airlocks allow visitors to enter the package, which is self-supporting and kept upright by two air fans creating a constant pressure of 27 pascal (0.27 millibar).
Christo and Jeanne-Claude created their first sculpture involving air in 1966. The artists’ last air package was erected at documenta IV in Kassel in 1968. It stood 85 meters (280 feet) tall, with a diameter of 10 meters (32.8 feet) and a volume of 5,600 cubic meters (198,000 cubic feet).
Big Air Package is the largest ever inflated envelope without a skeleton. Illuminated through the skylights of the Gasometer, the work of art is a cathedral of air, creating a diffused light throughout the interior, muffling the usual sounds and thus generating an atmosphere of silence and tranquility.
Do Hit Chair
Furniture doesn’t come much more customizable than the Do Hit Chair from Droog Design. For the modest price of €6,553 ($8,500) you get a stainless steel cube and a sledgehammer to shape it into the chair of your dreams.
Created by Dutch designer Marijn van der Poll caused quite a lot of controversy when it was first revealed back in 2000. You’d expect a designer chair priced at several thousand dollars to be really special, and this one is, just not in the way that you would expect. Instead of shaping his masterpiece into something unique, van der Poll simply welded a stainless steel cube and left the design part to the buyer by throwing in a sledgehammer. So you basically pay for a steel cube and get to smash it for minutes or hours until you get the desired shape.