Born 1967 Copenhagen, Denmark
Olafur Eliasson frequently uses materials that are elemental and ephemeral: light, heat, moisture, steam, and ice for example are often manipulated by him towards aesthetic ends and in response to a specific site to explore a space between nature and technology, the organic and the industrial. The components of Olafur Eliasson’s installations are often industrially produced to create an experience that is physical, sensory and emotional.
With basic materials and little technical extravagance, the individual components of Olafur Eliasson’s installations are strictly functional. The simplicity of his materials expands the range of implications his works evoke. For example, his most well known installation The Weather Project installed at Tate Modern in 2003 filled the open space of the gallery’s Turbine Hall with representations of the sun and the sky. Olafur Eliassonused humidifiers to create a fine mist in the air via a mixture of sugar and water, as well as a semi-circular disc made up of hundreds of mono-frequency lamps which emitted pure yellow light. The ceiling of the hall was covered with a huge mirror, in which visitors could see themselves as tiny black shadows against a mass of orange light.
Olafur Eliasson’s exploration of light as a fundamental premise of energy, ranges from the abstract (the perception of nature) to the concrete (the electricity supply). In his early work on show in ‘Lightness of Being’ Untitled 1995, Olafur Eliasson has suspended three sheets of photo sensitive cells on which are depicted a snowscape in the centre of which, on the horizon, sits a shack. Olafur Eliasson’s Northern European origins, his love of the outdoors and expressing ideas and feelings about nature and the landscape are summed up in this simple piece that combines in an early form several of the elements that he subsequently developed to great effect. A simplicity of materials and execution with lyrical expression.