Study Visit to the Tate Modern on 23/11/2019

'Moss Wall' by Olafur Eliasson

On the 23/11/2019, myself, Bev and Richard went to see two exhibitions at the Tate modern. This was a fun study visit and although not particularly relevant to my Body of Work, kept continuity for me in attending the group. As well as this it made me think about how work is presented for when I start Sustaining Your Practice.

The first exhibition we went to see at the Tate Modern was Nam June Paik (2019-20). There were some parts of this exhibition that appealed to me and large parts that didn’t. I think Nam June Paik was definitely ahead of his time. His work was multidisciplinary, he foresaw the rise of the TV/computer and moreover internet communications as a result of the latter of these devices. As artworks though, a lot of them I didn’t ‘get’ or didn’t appeal to me. Of course, visiting an exhibition is a highly subjective experience but I didn’t connect with much in this one. Some of the installations did stand out for me however.

A Photograph of the TV Garden (1974-77) Installation by Nam June Paik
A Photograph of the TV Garden (1974-77) Installation by Nam June Paik

TV Garden (1974-77), one of the first things I came across in the exhibition, immediately enthralled me. I liked seeing all those TVs in one space, interspersed with live plants; it made the TVs seem somehow connected. I liked the fact they all showed the same thing at the same time, it made me think of how TV might look like from space if you could see TVs from space and there was only one channel! It came across that Paik was of the opinion that electronics and nature could coexist, with TV Garden (1974-77) being an exponent of this: ‘he creates an environment in which the seemingly distinct realms of electronics and nature coexist’ – (Tate Modern, 2019). I would have to say I disagree with this concept because it seems to me that nature has been swallowed up by electronics rather than coexisting. Of course I am saying this 40+ years after this installation was conceived so I have the benefit of hindsight. It would be interesting to see if Paik would be so positive about electronics or technology later on.

Another of the Robots in the Room 'Experiments' by Nam June Paik
Another of the Robots in the Room ‘Experiments’ by Nam June Paik
One of the Robots in the Room 'Experiments' by Nam June Paik
One of the Robots in the Room ‘Experiments’ by Nam June Paik

 

The second installation which caught my eye was in the Experiments room. In here there were several robots made out of TVs and other apparatus! Apparently, Robot-K456 (1964) could walk and function in other ways. I liked that Paik thought about the details when designing the robots; for instance he deliberately constructed them out of older TVs and worn out equipment. This was presumably so they had more personality and were expressive of the people who helped construct them.

The second exhibition was called In Real Life (2019-20) by Olafur Eliasson. I would describe Eliasson’s exhibition as an interactive and visionary feast for the imagination. I could definitely get where Eliasson is coming from with his art: ‘his concern with nature, honed through his time spent in Iceland; his research into geometry; and his ongoing investigations into how we perceive, feel about and shape the world around us.’ – (Tate Modern, 2019), was evident in this exhibition. Unfortunately I was too busy taking photographs with my phone camera (it is possible this was a consideration of Eliasson’s when creating the exhibition) to write down what any of the installations were called. However, I can describe the overall experience and detail some of the more memorable artworks.

A Room Containing All the Models Eliasson Has Used to Create Larger-scale Installations
A Room Containing All the Models Eliasson Has Used to Create Larger-scale Installations

Firstly, when walking into the exhibition I was greeted with a room full of the models Eliasson has used to create much bigger scaled installation versions of the models. Some of them were already quite big so I was surprised to see they were only models!

'Moss Wall' by Olafur Eliasson
‘Moss Wall’ by Olafur Eliasson
A Projector Emits Light Through Grids and Around Me to Onto a Wall Which I've Photographed
A Projector Emits Light Through Grids and Around Me to Onto a Wall Which I’ve Photographed

There was a room with a giant wall made out of living moss, imaginatively titled Moss Wall and the room also included a wall with light projected through a grid. This might not sound very special in itself but it provided me with another photo opportunity!

A Light, Fine Mist Pours Down in This Room from the Ceiling
A Light, Fine Mist Pours Down in This Room from the Ceiling
A Blind Corridor to Walk Down as Fog Surrounds the Walker
A Blind Corridor to Walk Down as Fog Surrounds the Walker

Then, two more experiences were available to the viewer (or more aptly, the explorer). There was a room with a light, fine mist pouring down form the ceiling, followed by a long, foggy corridor. The corridor was so foggy it was difficult to see where to walk or who was in front.

Thousands of Small Mirrors at Various Angles are Connected Together Forming This Tunnel
Thousands of Small Mirrors at Various Angles are Connected Together Forming This Tunnel

After the corridor there was a much shorter tunnel that was made up of thousands of small mirrors at different angles on the inside of the tunnel. This made walking through the tunnel quite psychedelic.

A Projected Light Shines Through a Giant Disc
A Projected Light Shines Through a Giant Disc

A room containing at first glance a giant disc with light coming out of part of it was the next sight to behold. I was about to walk way from this room after taking a few pictures but then I began to work out where the light was coming from. There was a projector in the far corner emitting light although the light was directed in the wrong direction. I looked to where the light was projected to and a mirror was there, angling the light elsewhere. I looked to where the mirror deflected the light to and it was another mirror directly behind the giant disc. By now I had a sneaking suspicion what was going on. Sure enough, the mirrors connected the projected light to the light coming out of the from of the giant disc through its translucent surface! This was a nice revelation for me because I worked it out for myself and so was a rewarding experience.

A Photograph of 'The Glacier Melt Series' (1999/2019) by Olafur Eliasson
A Photograph of ‘The Glacier Melt Series’ (1999/2019) by Olafur Eliasson

There was one part of the exhibition which was a bit more relevant for my course. The room contained a photographic series called The Glacier Melt Series (1999/2019). Here, Eliasson rephotographed the same scene with the same framing in order to show how something had changed. In this case it was several glaciers and he returned 20 years later to rephotograph them. I feel the framing of the rephotographed scenes was very accurate but it also highlighted all the more starkly a depressing fact. The glaciers photographed between the 20 year gap have melted drastically and in this way Eliasson draws attention to this sad fact. The reason it is relevant for my course is that it reminds me to pay attention to detail (which I have been trying to do) when rephotographing a scene because it makes the other changes within the scene so much more apparent.

A Room With A Giant Semi-Circle and A Ceiling Made of Mirror!
A Room With A Giant Semi-Circle and A Ceiling Made of Mirror!

The last room of note I cam across contained a giant mirror on the ceiling of the room with a semi-circle going from one end of the ceiling to the floor and across to the ceiling of the other side of the room. It was a bit deceiving that the semi-cicld was a semi-circle because the mirror gave the illusion that it continued round into the ceiling!

Overall I found Eliasson’s exhibition In Real Life (2019-20) to be very fun, immersive and thought-provoking. Some of the works I feel were on display for amusement while others had deeper meanings. I was glad I visited both exhibitions although Eliasson’s was my favourite and I feel I got more out of it.

References:

Eliasson, O. (1999/2019) The Glacier Melt Series. [Exhibition] London: Tate Modern. 11.07.2019 – 05.01.2020.

Eliasson, O. (2019) In Real Life. [Exhibition] London: Tate Modern. 11.07.2019 – 05.01.2020.

Paik, N.J. (1964) Robot-K456. [Installation] London: Tate Modern. 17.10.2019 – 09.02.2020.

Paik, N.J. (1974-77) TV Garden. [Installation] London: Tate Modern. 17.10.2019 – 09.02.2020.

Paik, N. J. (2019) Nam June Paik. [Exhibition] London: Tate Modern. 17.10.2019 – 09.02.2020.

Tate Modern (2019) In Real Life. [Exhibition] London: Tate Modern. 11.07.2019 – 05.01.2020.

Tate Modern (2019) Nam June Paik. [Exhibition] London: Tate Modern. 17.10.2019 – 09.02.2020.

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