Amplifier for Art, Science and Society

Photos: Julien Gremaud

Photos: Julien Gremaud

Your circadian embrace

Olafur Eliasson

Specially adapted for EPFL Pavilions, the artwork Your circadian embrace is illuminated during the day by the light of the sun. Suspended from the ceiling in the darkened exhibition room, a prismatic ring surrounding a dichroic colour-effect filter slowly rotates within a beam of light. As the ring turns, it casts moving circles and arcs of colourful light on the walls. Some of these are single tones, while others display the full range of colours in the visible spectrum.

Positioned outside of the exhibition building, an heliostat, or sun tracker, redirects sunlight onto the rotating ring using a mirror that follows the ‘movement’ of the sun across the sky. The normal ‘movement’ of sunlight through the room is not a result of the motion of the sun, however, but rather, the optical result of the rotation of the earth.
Eliasson emphasises the heliostat’s ability to make a unique position on earth explicit as the planet revolves around the sun. The sun tracker thus links artwork and visitor to the earth’s surface, to the weather environments that determine the visibility of the sun, and to the cosmos beyond.

In Eliasson’s words: “To track the sun is to track yourself, because the sun tracker locates the centre of your orbital ellipse, giving your position right now and rendering visible your path. The reflexive potential lies in understanding that we are not the centre of the universe, but are in a way the mirrors, circulating, tracking, spinning in concert with others.”