Stumbling into Utopia with Olafur Eliasson

While concept videos offered the bright prospect of a future of smoothly-functioning digitized prostheses, artists like Olafur Eliasson challenge us with uncanny sensuous experiences that force the doors of perception. Thanks to the remarkable Abler, I’ve learned about Eliasson’s installation Your Blind Passenger at Denmark’s Arken Museum, which consists of a ninety-meter tunnel filled with fog. It’s a compelling instantiation of art that works not by expanding sensuous possibilities, but by restricting them.

Interestingly, Eliasson sees his tunnel as a portal to Utopia—

For me Utopia is tied to our ‘now’, to the moment between one second and the next. It constitutes a potential that is actualized and transformed into reality; an opening where concepts such as subject and object, inside and outside, proximity and distance are thrown up in the air only to be defined anew. Our sense of orientation is challenged, and the coordinates of our spaces, collective and personal, have to be renegotiated. Mutability and motion lie at the core of Utopia.

Eliasson’s formula for instant Utopia reminds me of Charlie Stross’ post yesterday aguing for a kind of utopian realism—also of what Slavoj Žižek says about Utopia as “a matter of innermost urgency—you are forced to imagine as the only way out.”

[via Abler (where you should especially dig into “Art of Adaptation: a Primer”]

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