The Frontal Cortex

Olafur Eliasson

One of the questions I get asked most often when discussing my book is what artists working today are creating work that’s relevant to the discourse of science. My stock answer is to mutter something inarticulate about Richard Powers. But now I’ve got someone new to talk about: Olafur Eliasson.

Until I saw Eliasson’s retrospective at SFMOMA, I was really only familiar with his big Tate Modern installation, The Weather Project:


But my favorite pieces at SFMOMA were of a much more intimate scale. As Eliasson puts it, they are about “seeing yourself seeing”. I’d describe the work, but it can’t really be described. It needs to be experienced, since it’s ultimately about deconstructing the psychological experience we take for granted.


  1. #1 Kevin Eisenmann
    January 31, 2008

    Funny you mention this: Just yesterday the same artist caught my eye as we at the MCA Chicago are preparing to welcome Madeleine Grynsztejn as our new director. She is the SFMOMA show curator. I instantly thought of your book.

  2. #2 andy
    January 31, 2008

    I was lucky enough to be visiting london when that Installation was there. They’d effectively doubled the (already huge) tate modern entrance hall by mirroring the entire ceiling, and having the ‘sun’ pictured made up of a lighted semicircle against the mirrors, making a circle.

    the whole place was filled with a smoky haze, and walking in was like stepping through a portal to another planet.


    You can see in the picture, people lying down on the floor. It’s not because the giant sun triggered a sunbathing instinct, but because you could look up and see the entire floor reflected back from the huge mirror. people were lying down in star shapes and circles, doing little sychronised swimming patterns and waving. it had a very ‘music festival’ atmosphere in some way.

    it’s one of my lasting memories.

  3. #3 Michele
    January 31, 2008

    I saw the exhibit at SFMOMA. I really enjoyed it as it was completely different from any other exhibit I had seen there. I found everything fascinating. I find it difficult to describe but I recommend it to many people (even those who don’t like “modern” art).

  4. #4 Ana Carneiro
    February 3, 2008

    Hi Jonah,
    My name is Ana, and I am the Portuguese translator of your book “Proust was a Neuroscientist”. Congratulations for the book. I am having a lot of fun and so far I think I made a good job with the translation.
    By some strange coincidence, I also translated a set of interviews with Olafur Eliasson while I was translating your book. I thought that it would be interesting if you two would meet, since some of his ideas about seeing and movement could very well be in your book, and he would probably appreciate what you have on this and other subjects.
    I can’t say much more about this translation in this post, since the book is not published yet. However, if you want more information, send me a private e-mail address and I will be very happy to reply to you.
    Congratulations again, for Proust.

  5. #5 Hotels Thailand
    October 12, 2008

    Very interesting post. I have been looking around for more work done by this artist.

  6. #6 hiz kesici
    March 7, 2009


New comments have been disabled.