In honor of Earth Day last Wednesday, Serpentine Galleries commissioned Olafur Eliasson to contribute to its 50th anniversary “Back to Earth” program. Originally unveiled on Instagram last week was the artist’s contribution—Earth perspectives, a nine-part series depicting abstracted views of the Earth, created by seeing the planet on different axes.
With this piece, the artist explores the concept that maps, space, and our planet itself are constructions of perspective. At surface value, Eliasson’s audience will enjoy colorfully interpreted satellite views of locations like the Great Barrier Reef, Yakutia in Siberia, Russia, and the South Pole. But the artist’s real mission is to open the eyes of the public to the co-existence of multiple views of the world—both figuratively and literally
In the center of each image, a small, black dot denotes a certain location, as well as a focal point. If the viewer concentrates on the spot for about ten seconds before shifting their view to a blank surface, an afterimage is formed, appearing in complimentary colors of the original visual.
“Earth perspectives envisions the earth we want to live on together by welcoming multiple perspectives—not only human perspectives but also those of plants, animals, and nature,” said Eliasson. “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 recognize these various perspectives and, together, celebrate their co-existence.”
In light of the current global pandemic, Eliasson urges his viewers to utilize this time to imagine the earth we want to inhabit in the future, preparing to bring it into existence. Supporting the issue, the artist has released the works for a free online download—at olafureliasson.net and serpentinegalleries.org—encouraging the public to share with one another.
Serpentine’s “Back to Earth” program is an ongoing initiative that includes contributions by more than sixty renowned artists, scientists, designers, and other creatives who have been invited to lead initiatives responding to the environmental crisis. Supported through partnerships with different networks and organizations, the project will spread throughout Serpentine’s oeuvre to include on-site, off-site, and online programming.