As a child, I always marveled at the colors and designs that could be contrived by the simple rotation of a kaleidoscope. Olafur Eliasson brings all that childhood wonderment of color spectra into the adult cognition through his works. His studio has been in operation since 1995 in Berlin, Germany, however, his exhibits have traveled worldwide. His manipulation of light through prisms, reflective and refractive surfaces is combined with elaborate geometric constructs creating visually scintillating effects. Visitors are captivated by the play of light through his exhibits which seem to generate their own unique experience depending on the perception of each individual at any given moment or position. One such exhibit that ran in 2008 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York can still be viewed online by clicking the museum link.
Beyond his innovative style of art, I am equally impressed by his attention to the needs of under privileged communities. His efforts as a philanthropist have channeled his talent and resources to create a product called “Little Sun.” Five hours of natural sunlight charges this safe portable lantern to provide five hours of light that would otherwise be unavailable. We so frequently take for granted our use of electricity until we are temporarily forced to endure without it during storms and other sources of power outages. Heaven help our family when we lose power for one day… and you would think the apocalypse was nearing if BGE tarried beyond the 36 hour margin! Yet this is a lifestyle to so many countries that we can easily forget about in our daily to’s-and-fro’s. I remember once hearing about the conditions in a Haitian village where children were not able to get effective time in the classroom because the school did not have adequate light, even during the daytime hours. Then in the evenings they were only able to access a limited and rationed supply of electricity in one centralized building. Communities such as these would be so grateful to have something so simple yet so functional in their homes. Learning about this project, brought new meaning to a quote I heard in an earlier interview by Eliasson when he stated,