When people go to a museum, they tend to think that they primarily take in the museum and the artworks through their eyes. This is a historically motivated understanding of the senses. The truth is, though, we physically take in the museum by walking through it. Having relied on the eye as the protagonist of art history, the museum may not have nurtured the potential of the audience for feeling and being present in its galleries. But for a century now, the role of the body has become key to the interpretation of art. The way we perceive and express ourselves is not just through the eyes, ears, and voice. The way we express ourselves is the way we are. We physically move around. This means that walking is talking. 

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  • Olafur Eliasson Pedestrian vibes study

    Olafur Eliasson, Pedestrian vibes study

    © Olafur Eliasson

  • Olafur Eliasson Pedestrian vibes study

    Olafur Eliasson, Pedestrian vibes study

    © Olafur Eliasson

  • Olafur Eliasson Pedestrian vibes study

    Olafur Eliasson, Pedestrian vibes study

    © Olafur Eliasson

I have always been obsessed with dance because it’s an incredibly exciting way of expressing yourself using space, time, and your body. If we evaluate who, in fact, the artist is, of course there is no doubt that Magritte made the painting in the frame that is hanging in the Surrealist show, but we should also not underestimate the creativity of the visitor who walks through, who takes physical action in deciding to go to the museum, who interprets the painting and takes the interpretation back into the world.

Olafur Eliasson Pedestrian vibes study

Olafur Eliasson, Pedestrian vibes study

© Olafur Eliasson

This is why I am asking the museum visitors to do a drawing with light: to make something physical. I am handing you a Little Sun and suggesting that you go in front of a camera connected to a computer program with which you can make a light drawing, just like those by Man Ray and Pablo Picasso, and of course, most recently, on Youtube and the Internet in general. In the Poetry and Dream exhibition at Tate, I invite you to do a work of art by dancing, jumping, shaking, writing out loud – all within the context of Surrealism.

Make your graffiti, and we will upload it to a new Tate gallery online. We will make the entire Tate audience into artists by exhibiting their light graffiti on an online sphere. The sphere will start out as a black planet in a black room, but as the light graffiti makes it glow, it will gradually grow into a little sun composed of your drawings.  

Comments

This idea of the viewer being part of the artist is inspiring- I myself have been trying to create more pieces that allow the viewer to interpret and come up with their own meaning to the piece. I know I certainly don't always look at art the way it's meant to be seen, much to the frustration of others around me sometimes! I will give this a go and thank you!- A.