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  • I have a studio in Berlin --

  • let me cue on here --

  • which is down there in this snow, just last weekend.

  • In the studio we do a lot of experiments.

  • I would consider the studio more like a laboratory.

  • I have occasional meetings with scientists.

  • And I have an academy, a part of the University of Fine Arts in Berlin.

  • We have an annual gathering of people,

  • and that is called Life in Space.

  • Life in Space is really not necessarily about

  • how we do things, but why we do things.

  • Do you mind looking, with me, at that little cross in the center there?

  • So just keep looking. Don't mind me.

  • So you will have a yellow circle, and we will do an after-image experiment.

  • When the circle goes away you will have another color, the complementary color.

  • I am saying something. And your eyes and your brain are saying something back.

  • This whole idea of sharing, the idea of constituting reality

  • by overlapping what I say and what you say --

  • think of a movie.

  • Since two years now, with some stipends from the science ministry in Berlin,

  • I've been working on these films

  • where we produce the film together.

  • I don't necessarily think the film is so interesting.

  • Obviously this is not interesting at all in the sense of the narrative.

  • But nevertheless, what the potential is --

  • and just keep looking there --

  • what the potential is, obviously,

  • is to kind of move the border of who is the author,

  • and who is the receiver.

  • Who is the consumer, if you want,

  • and who has responsibility for what one sees?

  • I think there is a socializing dimension

  • in, kind of, moving that border.

  • Who decides what reality is?

  • This is the Tate Modern in London.

  • The show was, in a sense, about that.

  • It was about a space in which I put half a semi-circular yellow disk.

  • I also put a mirror in the ceiling, and some fog, some haze.

  • And my idea was to make the space tangible.

  • With such a big space, the problem is

  • obviously that there is a discrepancy

  • between what your body can embrace,

  • and what the space, in that sense, is.

  • So here I had the hope that by inserting some natural elements,

  • if you want -- some fog -- I could make the space tangible.

  • And what happens is that people, they start to see themselves in this space.

  • So look at this. Look at the girl.

  • Of course they have to look through a bloody camera

  • in a museum. Right? That's how museums are working today.

  • But look at her face there,

  • as she's checking out, looking at herself in the mirror.

  • "Oh! That was my foot there!"

  • She wasn't really sure whether she was seeing herself or not.

  • And in that whole idea,

  • how do we configure the relationship between our body and the space?

  • How do we reconfigure it?

  • How do we know that being in a space makes a difference?

  • Do you see when I said in the beginning, it's about

  • why, rather than how?

  • The why meant really,

  • "What consequences does it have when I take a step?"

  • "What does it matter?"

  • "Does it matter if I am in the world or not?"

  • "And does it matter whether the kind of actions I take

  • filter into a sense of responsibility?"

  • Is art about that?

  • I would say yes. It is obviously about

  • not just about decorating the world, and making it look even better,

  • or even worse, if you ask me.

  • It's obviously also about taking responsibility,

  • like I did here when throwing some green dye in the river

  • in L.A., Stockholm, Norway and Tokyo,

  • among other places.

  • The green dye is not environmentally dangerous,

  • but it obviously looks really rather frightening.

  • And it's on the other side also, I think, quite beautiful,

  • as it somehow shows the turbulence in these kind of downtown areas,

  • in these different places of the world.

  • The "Green river," as a kind of activist idea, not a part of an exhibition,

  • it was really about showing people,

  • in this city, as they walk by,

  • that space has dimensions. A space has time.

  • And the water flows through the city with time.

  • The water has an ability to make

  • the city negotiable, tangible.

  • Negotiable meaning that it makes a difference

  • whether you do something or not.

  • It makes a difference whether you say, "I'm a part of this city.

  • And if I vote it makes a difference.

  • If I take a stand, it makes a difference."

  • This whole idea of a city not being a picture is,

  • I think, something that art, in a sense,

  • always was working with.

  • The idea that art can actually evaluate the relationship

  • between what it means to be in a picture,

  • and what it means to be in a space. What is the difference?

  • The difference between thinking and doing.

  • So these are different experiments with that. I won't go into them.

  • Iceland, lower right corner, my favorite place.

  • These kinds of experiments, they filter into architectural models.

  • These are ongoing experiments.

  • One is an experiment I did for BMW,

  • an attempt to make a car.

  • It's made out of ice.

  • A crystalline stackable principle in the center on the top,

  • which I am trying to turn into a concert hall in Iceland.

  • A sort of a run track, or a walk track,

  • on the top of a museum in Denmark,

  • which is made of colored glass, going all around.

  • So the movement with your legs

  • will change the color of your horizon.

  • And two summers ago at the Hyde Park in London,

  • with the Serpentine Gallery:

  • a kind of a temporal pavilion where

  • moving was the only way you could see the pavilion.

  • This summer, in New York:

  • there is one thing about falling water which is very much about

  • the time it takes for water to fall.

  • It's quite simple and fundamental.

  • I've walked a lot in the mountains in Iceland.

  • And as you come to a new valley,

  • as you come to a new landscape, you have a certain view.

  • If you stand still, the landscape

  • doesn't necessarily tell you how big it is.

  • It doesn't really tell you what you're looking at.

  • The moment you start to move, the mountain starts to move.

  • The big mountains far away, they move less.

  • The small mountains in the foreground, they move more.

  • And if you stop again, you wonder,

  • "Is that a one-hour valley?

  • Or is that a three-hour hike, or is that a whole day I'm looking at?"

  • If you have a waterfall in there,

  • right out there at the horizon; you look at the waterfall

  • and you go, "Oh, the water is falling really slowly."

  • And you go, "My god it's really far away and it's a giant waterfall."

  • If a waterfall is falling faster,

  • it's a smaller waterfall which is closer by --

  • because the speed of falling water is pretty constant everywhere.

  • And your body somehow knows that.

  • So this means a waterfall is a way of measuring space.

  • Of course being an iconic city like New York,

  • that has had an interest in somehow

  • playing around with the sense of space, you could say that New York

  • wants to seem as big as possible.

  • Adding a measurement

  • to that is interesting:

  • the falling water suddenly gives you a sense

  • of, "Oh, Brooklyn is exactly this much --

  • the distance between Brooklyn and Manhattan, in this case

  • the lower East River is this big."

  • So it was not just necessarily about putting nature into the cities.

  • It was also about giving the city a sense of dimension.

  • And why would we want to do that?

  • Because I think it makes a difference

  • whether you have a body

  • that feels a part of a space,

  • rather than having a body which is just in front of a picture.

  • And "Ha-ha, there is a picture and here is I. And what does it matter?"

  • Is there a sense of consequences?

  • So if I have a sense of the space,

  • if I feel that the space is tangible,

  • if I feel there is time,

  • if there is a dimension I could call time,

  • I also feel that I can change the space.

  • And suddenly it makes a difference

  • in terms of making space accessible.

  • One could say this is about

  • community, collectivity.

  • It's about being together.

  • How do we create public space?

  • What does the word "public" mean today anyway?

  • So, asked in that way,

  • I think it raises great things about

  • parliamentary ideas, democracy, public space,

  • being together, being individual.

  • How do we create

  • an idea which is both tolerant to individuality,

  • and also to collectivity,

  • without polarizing the two

  • into two different opposites?

  • Of course the political agendas in the world

  • has been very obsessed, polarizing the two against each other

  • into different, very normative ideas.

  • I would claim that art and culture,

  • and this is why art and culture are so incredibly interesting

  • in the times we're living in now,

  • have proven that one can

  • create a kind of a space

  • which is both sensitive to individuality

  • and to collectivity.

  • It's very much about this causality, consequences.

  • It's very much about the way we link

  • thinking and doing.

  • So what is between thinking and doing?

  • And right in-between thinking and doing,

  • I would say, there is experience.

  • And experience is not just

  • a kind of entertainment in a non-casual way.

  • Experience is about responsibility.

  • Having an experience is taking part in the world.

  • Taking part in the world is really about sharing responsibility.

  • So art, in that sense,

  • I think holds an incredible relevance

  • in the world in which we're moving into,

  • particularly right now.

  • That's all I have. Thank you very much.

  • (Applause)

I have a studio in Berlin --

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A2 TED space waterfall sense difference tangible

【TED】Olafur Eliasson: Playing with space and light

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