Olaffur Eliasson, Green River Project, 2000

Olafur Eliasson, Green River Project, 2000, Uranine in River, Dimensions Variable

I enjoyed writing my dissertation as itwas based on collour and its understanding as part of this I chose a variety of artists to influence my work, one of these artists was Olafur Eliasson, originally I wanted to see how I could work into my work the piece:

Olafur Eliasson, Your Rainbow Panorama, 2006- 2011
Rainbow Panorama. Image by Alex Bandea [CC BY-SA 2.0 (h
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

This piece originally is what I researched for my dissertation, however I had to change to the Green River Project piece as this is something thet fit the constraints of the subject.

“”Green River Project (Eliasson, 2000) (Fig. 1) uses colour as a ‘catalyst’ (Artspace, 2019), however, this piece differs to the previous piece mentioned, this is by using colour to draw attention to an element of life that the viewers would not have normally noticed. The piece, in Stockholm, was reacted to on a large scale. Eliasson has created the piece Green River Project (Eliasson, 2000) (Fig. 1) invarious locations from 1998 – 2001. Eliasson has worked alongside scientists to discover uranine, a non-toxic powder often used to detect water currents by marine biologists, this powder is the main element in the piece. The intentions of Eliasson were to make the audience more aware of their surroundings, “Eliasson uses green in an anti-naturalistic manner to make viewers see the everyday world differently” (Stella, P. 2017, p177) in this there is a suggestion to the idea of the piece being ‘anti-naturalistic’ this points towards the idea of a colour understanding being assumed by Eliasson, as it points to the idea of the element of colour being used to force an understanding on any viewer. An association is made by an audience because the colour green is being used out of context, the stereotype is that rivers are not green. This association is made points back the idea of a cognitive understanding, as suggested in the text to the reference of ‘red is associated with’ [in Chinese culture] (Simmons D.R., 2011, p408), as the cognitive understanding is, stereotypically, not that the river should be green.This way of working created a new environment for the audience to be involved with, “Eliasson used colourant in this work to draw viewers unwittingly into a new relationship with their surroundings” (Artspace, 2019), the newly formed relationship with the surroundings was a clear intention of Eliasson and was clearly not an unexpected result; “The artist set out to make people take notice, expressing a goal of making the river present again. A particularly intense green dye made it hyper-real, as Eliasson has described the jolt of encountering something familiar but wholly changed” (Stella, P. 2017, p198). In the works of Eliasson colour is not only used as an enabler of a stereotype, e.g. the water should not be green’ but is also used as a large indicator, this Is two ways of using colour to have a large impact on an audience, this method of working is unusual and has a large impact.  In writings on a study of the artist Grynsztejn et al.go as far to say; “The experience of colour is a cultivation” (Grynsztejn, Brinbaum and Speaks, 2002, p130) by claiming that the art has used colour as a cultivation is to go as far to say that Eliasson has used colour in a way to enhance a viewer, and their understanding, in ways that have never been used before.

    With the piece Green River Project (Eliasson, 2000) (Fig. 1) it is clear to see a link to the idea of a cognitive understanding of colour, as this piece relies on the knowledge of the audience. The audience, in this case, the city of Stockholm, has a knowledge of what their city would typically look like, as soon as Eliasson creates Green river project (Eliasson, 2000) (Fig. 1) this knowledge is completely reversed. “As much as our senses and perceptions are linked with memory and recognition, our relation to colour is closely derived from our cultural habitat” (Grynsztejn, Brinbaum and Speaks, 2002, p130) in this extract it is fair to say that Eliasson has manipulated the cultural habitat and the use of colour to create a spectacle in which the residents do not understand, this use of colour, and the lack of notice to this project means that the idea of the normal cultural habitat is changed. However, Eliasson did not intend for the main spectacle of the work to be the idea of the river being green this becomes apparent in an extract from Grynsztejn: “the point was not even Green River; the point was how it looked before and after. The Green Riveris just a catalyst” (Grynsztejn, Brinbaum and Speaks, 2002, p17). To summarise Eliasson manages to use colour to influence a city into an overreaction, however, even though this may not have been the exact intention the overall knowledge of colour causes an understanding of the artwork to the audience.””

Extract from dissertation


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