There is an intriguing tension in this show between the ephemeral nature of much of the work, and the environment of high-end entertainment engendered by the Modern (though at P.S.1 the work seems much more at home). In addition to the work itself, the viewer is confronted with the gamut of human interactions, interventions, and interruptions in the process of navigating through the crowds at this popular show. For some (and their young children), it is a playground. Others bob in and out of the rooms looking for the “art”. Many are primarily interested in getting cool photos of themselves in proximity to the various environments. A few are quietly hanging out in each room, watching, absorbing, being. It is a true microcosm of human behavior in relation to natural phenomena, or maybe for that matter in relation to art.
It’s amazing that, for instance, a room filled with intense yellow light can be so fascinating to so many people. I think it is the direct simplicity of the gesture that makes it so palatable – placing emphasis on actual physical experience rather than on Art (the museum setting notwithstanding). By altering a fundamental element of reality (color), Eliasson is drawing us in like moths to flame – enticing us to examine the difference, to speculate, to feel. Each individual will of course have a different experience, sense a different value, feel a different intensity. But it is the potential awareness, the optimistic possibility that our action as viewers may produce a fundamental change in the nature or structure of our reality that seems to be at the heart of Eliasson’s work.