Written by: Brendan Brehm Thursday, June 9th, 2011 .
A rainbow arches from one elusive point to another, always shifting its position in relation to the viewer. Olafur Eliasson’s latest installation, “Your Rainbow Panorama,” unites the two ends of a rainbow in a circular skywalk on top of the ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum in Aarhus, Denmark. This elevated platform, enclosed in colored glass representing all the colors of the visible spectrum, explores the relationship between the viewer, the city, and the museum through the shifting perspectives a rainbow forces us to adopt.
Opened to guests on May 28th, “Your Rainbow Panorama” is a permanent installation that appears to float between the museum and the sky. Fortunately for Eliasson, the original construction of the museum included a reinforced roof in anticipation of a future rooftop project. The platform sits 3.5 meters above the roof, supported by very slender columns so that some have likened it to a colorful halo over the monolithic art museum. This comparison to a halo is not too far-fetched since Dante’s “Divine Comedy” influenced the museum’s design. The basement level of the museum represents the “underworld” with an exhibition space called “The 9 Spaces”: an evolving exhibition with works by Bill Viola, Tony Oursier, James Turrell, and others. Logically, the rooftop represents the heavens, or at least some sort of meeting place with the heavens. Regardless of the Dante reference, the installation definitely changes the overall appearance of the museum, its circular structure striking a balance with the sharp lines of the museum or, as Eliasson puts it, engaging in a “friendly dialogue about spatial dimensions.”
The focal point of the skywalk experience is the view: “Your rainbow panorama enters into a dialogue with the existing architecture and reinforces what is assured beforehand, that is to say the view of the city,” say Eliasson. The “Your” in the title is a term that runs through Eliasson’s long list of interactive installations: “Your negotiable panorama,” “Your uncertainty of colour,” and “Your waste of time” are few examples. The “your” in this project encourage a mindfulness of one’s relation to city, which is further facilitated by the continuously shifting colors of the glass. Not only does your perspective change seamlessly as you stroll along the platform’s circumference, but the evolving colors continuously reawaken your sense of seeing something new.
Although the structure is static it enhances the visitor’s actions in various ways. The pace at which you walk effects how vibrant the colors appear in your vision, being brightest when you walk quickly past them, but paling some as you stop and stare through the glass. The phenomenon of the afterimage is also an important part of the experience. If you hold your gaze on the image of the city for a moment, then look away or close your eyes, a ghost of the image in a complementary color will remain in your vision.
As a representation of the visible spectrum of light, “Your Rainbow Panorama” is also a reminder to those who walk through it of the fascination with color that has resulted in the works of art housed below their feet.
Check out EntertainmentDesigner’s story about Eliasson’s work on the Harpa Concert Hall here.