Growing up, I was lead to believe that science and art are two parallel disciplines, running alongside each other — never destined to meet. Perception plays an important role in what we believe and that in turn, influences our view of what’s around us. Tell a child something and chances are she/he is likely to believe it. Thankfully, these days, artists don’t adhere to what I was lead to believe in. The void between contemporary art and science is slowly diminishing and somewhere in between the overlap — lies an opportunity for exciting new possibilities.
Two weeks ago, I visited the Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, with two friends, and spent over 5 hours browsing and ruminating through floors of Korean and global works of art and sculpture. However, it was ‘The Parliament of Possibilities’, an exhibition by Danish-Icelandic artist, Olafur Eliasson, that truly stole the show for me. Eliasson likes to play with concepts such as: perception, movement, embodied experience, and feelings of self. Simply put (or what I understood), take everyday occurrences around you, put a creative spin to it, and the result will be a fascinating treat for the eyes and a surreal experience for the mind.
The Shape of Disappearing Time, 2016
All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree.
The oloid is an interesting geometrical form. Invented by scientist Paul Schatz, in 1929; an oloid is formed when the centre of a circle intersects the circumference of another circle, congruent to it, located in a perpendicular plane, and vice versa. Eliasson’s exhibit combines Schatz’s vision and takes it a step further, by using highly polished brass triangles and light (at the centre) within an oloid, to create an illusion of light and alternate reality.
Less Ego Wall, 2015
This is the essence of all sciences – that you should know who you will be
when the Day of Reckoning arrives.
Perception and illusion form the underlying theme of Eliasson’s exhibits, questioning our beliefs of what we actually see, and what we are meant to see. A complex arrangement of diamond-shape mirrors, interspersed with triangular openings, play tricks on a viewer’s mind. At any given point, a viewer can see fragments of his/her own reflection, within the immediate surrounding, and at the correct angle — the viewer on the other side of the room.
Your Unpredictable Path, 2016
I had D minuses in chemistry and all of the sciences, and now I’m known as a molecular gastronomist.
It isn’t hard to see the inspiration behind this exhibit. The darkness of space is often illuminated by an occasional sparkle of a shining star or a luminous nebula. In this case, mimicked by a thousand odd spherical glass structures, spread across a black canvas wall. Some of the spheres reflect the image of the viewer — giving him/her an illusion — of being surrounded by the cosmos. Close your eyes and perhaps, you might visualise yourself at the centre of a fantastic cosmic universe.
Your Museum Primer, 2014
The grounding in natural sciences which I obtained in the course of my medical studies, including preliminary examinations in botany, zoology, physics, and chemistry, was to become decisive in determining the trend of my literary work.
Johannes Vilhelm Jensen
Light has always captured my imagination. This exhibit took me back to my school days, when we played with prisms and lenses, and were so easily fascinated by the light spectrum. Eliasson takes a science school project, mounts it in air, and gives a viewer, a chance to witness light morphing with minute changes in the position of an acrylic prism ring.
Rainbow Assembly, 2016
Why is the rain so fascinating? And the rainbow — a sign of hope? This exhibit combines our fascination for rain, light, and joy. A dark room welcomes the viewer into a surreal world of illusion and fantasy. A fine mist is illuminated by spotlights, to create the illusion of a moving rainbow, with its intensity waxing or waning, depending upon the distance of the viewer from the curtain of rain. My friend, Ivy, enjoys the soft droplets of water and the light as it reflects from her face.