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Experiencing Sustainability: Olafur Eliasson

posted Oct 7, 2010, 3:41 AM by Patricia Martin

Sustainability is not a closed concept that can be copied following some instructions. It is more, each of us understand it differently: some view it as a technical progress were devices as solar panels or hybrid cars can reduce CO2 emissions; others as a opportunity to change our lifestyles to less consuming and more healthy habits like biking or recycling; and others as a way of experience the world. This is the case of the artist Olafur Eliasson (Copenhagen 1967), who has accustomed us to experience the environment from a different perspective. We could experience his most famous work in the Tate Modern in London with The Weather Project and in New York with the New York Waterfalls. In these projects, we could realize and remember the presence of such basic and necessary elements as the sun and water in scenarios where we easily forget about our natural condition.

In my view, our senses have been manipulated during the past hundred years, so that we believe the world is organized in a certain way. Ideally we would see things much more individually, but the acculturation or commodification of the senses prevents us from doing so. Our senses are not natural, they are culturally produced, and the commodification of our senses has generalized the way we see the world.” Olafur Eliasson

  

But it is in projects like The Mediated Motion where Eliasson transport us to a parallel word of experiences, where we can see, smell, and touch by moving through a sequence of spaces filled with natural materials including water, fog, earth, wood, fungus and duckweed.

“I would say that representation does more than just qualify our senses—it is more extreme, without representation there simply are not senses—. Without memory there would be no recognition—no value systems—no sense of time—and finally, no expectations, Such a thing as a primordial sensation doesn’t exist, only culture—not that the complexity of cultivation of our senses should be underestimated, but the big common genius loci doesn’t exist”. Olafur Eliasson.

 

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