‘Sometimes an underground movement is an illuminated bridge’, 2020, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, USA

‘Sometimes an underground movement is an illuminated bridge’, 2020, is a site-specific artwork installed in the tunnel linking the Nancy and Rich Kinder Building and the Glassell School of Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. The work comprises twenty angular light sculptures suspended along the length of the tunnel. Each sculpture contains three monofrequency lamps within a black, bipyramidal steel framework. The lamps infuse the space with a narrow-wavelength of yellow light that reduces the viewers’ spectral range to shades of yellow and grey. By limiting the perceivable color spectrum to a single monochrome hue, the artwork heightens visitors’ awareness, endowing them with a sense of hyper-detailed vision.

Skylights at two points along the tunnel allow natural sunlight to enter the space through panes of purple glass that filter the light and contrast sharply with the yellow lighting. The effect of this intervention changes constantly, as the brightness and quality of the sunlight fluctuate according to weather, season, and time of day. Upon leaving the space, viewers perceive the world in bluish shades – an automatic reaction of the eye to the intense optical stimulation of the yellow environment.

The artwork is an investigation into our perception of colour as a construct, inviting visitors to recognise what happens when the full spectrum of colour is removed.

A night view of ‘Life’ at Fondation Beyeler, Basel. Photo: Pati Grabowicz

‘Start with the plants, follow their inquisitive growth, their running roots and rhizhomes, the widespread movements of their pollen and seeds, and an entire ecology of beings and becomings and comings undone will soon become perceptible. Get caught up in the involutionary momentum that propels these beings to get entangled in one another’s lives and you will soon start to perceive affective ecologies taking shape among the thicket of relations all around you.’ – Natasha Myers, anthropologist, from her essay ‘How to Grow Livable Worlds: Ten Not-so-easy Steps’

This text and more can be found on the dedicated website for Olafur Eliasson’s exhibition ‘Life’ at Fondation Beyeler in Basel: https://life.fondationbeyeler.ch/en/