Dubbed ‘The Big Book of Everything’ by the studio during its multi-year development, Experience – published by Phaidon earlier this week – distills almost three decades of Olafur’s experiments into 440 pages. The monograph gives a chronological overview of his installations, large-scale sculpture, architectural projects, and interventions in urban space while also featuring smaller, more delicate artworks, including paintings and drawings, photographs, and glass works.
Curator and art historian Michelle Kuo visited the studio in January 2018, sharing her research and why she is interested in how contemporary artists explore new systems for thinking about the future. Her extensive essay on Olafur introduces our new book; Experience. You can watch the full interview on SOE.TV
Today marks the 15th anniversary of The weather project, Tate Modern, London
An Orchestra of Forces
On the surface of the earth, in a midsize European metropolis, stands a red-brick industrial building – an artist’s studio. Its concrete foundations hold ercely on to the planet, just as the planet holds fiercely on to the studio. Inside, on the ground floor, a stone table supports the weight of a sheet of paper; it feels the weight where the rough-hewn surface makes contact with the page.
The stone has been around for hundreds of years. The paper, much younger, enjoys the cold, solid support, aware that the oor and foundations beneath the table were built upon the very same earth from which the paper, as a sapling, once grew. The paper is mindful of its scarcity as a resource. It is about to engage with a pencil. The pencil gets together with its companion, the hand. It is a listening hand, in uid motion. The movements conjure a hand dance of pushing and being pushed. Sometimes the pencil leads, sometimes the hand. There’s some friction in the interaction.
The weight of the hand and of the pencil travels to the paper, onwards to the table, and further down to the foundations of the building and to the planet. The pencil is conscious of its ability to push the planet.
As the pencil pushes, the planet pushes back. The table readily hosts the downward and upward forces, negotiating. The meeting-up of trajectories gives rise to the drawing. As much as the relationship is vertical at rst glance, there are also sideways connections, and spinning and orbital activity. The drawing is drawing upon and travelling in various dimensions. At this moment, the pencil is catching up with an idea that has come from the future, but has not yet been scribbled down. Time is its companion. The listening hand enjoys the apparently abstract agenda of the pencil; it accepts the unspeakable openness of things. It is too soon, at this point in time, to introduce a subject.
Contribution to Hyperobjects for Artists - a reader, edited by Timothy Morton and Laura Copelin with Peyton Gardner
SOE KITCHEN 101 - a temporary culinary project in Reykjavik - is open until the end of the month. Check out the events programme, workshops, menues, and book a seat at the long table on the project site
Sue your government:
Dutch appeals court on Tuesday upheld a landmark ruling that ordered the government to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 25 percent by 2020 from benchmark 1990 levels.
1m3 light, 1999. How does one visualise the ephemeral? How does one measure the non-visible? My son recently asked me whether he had saved much CO2 from being emitted into the air by using the Little Sun solar lamp I designed. He also wanted to know why, if a tonne of CO2 weighs so much, it does not drop to the ground. And where is it? To him, a tonne is heavy and physical and not an intangible mass distributed in the atmosphere. His questions made me realise how little I myself know about CO2. When I was my son’s age, back in the late seventies, there was no discussion of climate change. Nature was where I spent my summers, in a tent in the Icelandic highlands, a stark contrast to the Copenhagen I lived in. These natural and manmade realms could not be more separate. But today, there is no nature outside of human activity. Our survival and future depend on understanding the effects of CO2 consumption and acting on that understanding.
But what do we understand? What, for instance, is a tonne of CO2? Is it hot or cold, wet or dry? Perhaps it would help to know that one tonne of CO2 could be imagined as a cube the size of a three-storey house, or that, when frozen, it would form a block of dry ice about 0.67 cubic meters in size. But what does that actually tell me if I do not know how much CO2 I produce in a year or on an average day? What does it tell me if I do not sense my interrelationship with planet Earth?
We need science to tell us that the weight of CO2 is based on the atomic mass of the molecules. A scientist can tell me that a tonne of CO2 is equal to the energy expenditure of a house for about a month, a small car driven for two days non-stop, or a 747 flying for less than two minutes; and that because of the greenhouse effect, excessive amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere lead to global warming.
But, for many people, science alone is not enough to compel action. It struck me, when I was looking up this data, that it was familiar, that I had seen it more than once in the media, and I somehow knew most of it. So I asked myself why does knowing not translate into doing when so much is at stake?