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The Earth viewed over Chernobyl, in Pripyat, Ukraine
Photograph: Olafur Eliasson, Earth perspectives, 2020

Olafur Eliasson has created some trippy environmental Instagram art for Earth Day

By
Alexandra Sims
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Even if you’ve never heard of Olafur Eliasson, you’ll have probably seen his art. Last year, the Nordic art superstar’s hyper-photogenic exhibition ‘In Real Life’ at Tate Modern filled our Instagram feeds as Londoners took endless pictures of themselves in its rooms of colourful arty fog. 

The Danish-Icelandic artist is no stranger to putting the environment at the centre of his work. A few years back, he installed a giant glowing sun inside Tate Modern for his famous piece ‘The Weather Project’ and in 2018 he dumped 24 huge ice blocks outside the gallery so that passers-by could watch them inexorably melt. So it seems fitting that Eliasson has now collaborated with the Serpentine Gallery to create an ambitious online art project for the fiftieth anniversary of Earth Day – the world’s largest environmental event.

For the new participatory artwork, ‘Earth Perspectives’, Eliasson is inviting the public to rethink how we see the earth – literally. 

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Throughout the day, the artist is releasing vivid orange and pink images of the planet with a black dot in the middle. The viewer is asked to stare at the dot for ten seconds before focusing on a blank surface where an ‘afterimage’ of the earth will appear in different colours. The idea is that the viewer ‘literally projects a whole new world view’. 

‘Earth Perspectives’, which is part of the Serpentine’s Back to Earth programme, consists of nine images, each released hourly across the day. Each image turns the plant on a different axis and places the dot over places of ecological significance, such as the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the Ganges River in India, Chernobyl in Ukraine and the South Pole. 

The artist says of the work: ‘“Earth Perspectives” envisions the earth we want to live in together by welcoming multiple perspectives – not only human perspective but also those of plants, animals and nature. A glacier’s perspective deviates from that of a human. The same goes for a river. On Earth Day, I want to advocate – as on any other day – that we recognise these various perspectives and, together, celebrate their co-existence.’

Er, or you can just see it for yourself on the Serpentine’s Instagram.

Find more ways to take part in Earth Day from home

Guess what‘s happened to London pollution now everyone is staying in.

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