Inspired by his interest in navigational instruments, Eliasson has explored countless variations on the compass over the years. His fascination springs from the way that the instrument, by virtue of its steady indication of north, allows us to situate ourselves in relation to a map, locating us within a context. In fact, compasses orient us not only geographically but also socially. The particular visual sensation of the compass – needles to the north – is something we all share; the compass binds us to one another through our subjective faculties of sensation.
Many of Eliasson’s compasses incorporate whatever might be lying around his studio – driftwood, volcanic rocks, steel rings, handblown glass, or brass needles. Almost anything can become a compass by attaching a magnet to it to align it along the north–south axis. In this series of eight compasses, Eliasson has incorporated archery arrows to indicate the direction. Inspired by the idea of the turbulence caused by a sonic boom, a soundwave, or an arrow’s path through the air, Eliasson has wrapped the arrows with wire spirals and discs of glass and mirror.