Artwork Detail

Your Imploded View
Icelandic, b. Denmark, 1967
Polished aluminum
51 3/16 "
University purchase, Parsons Fund, 2005
WU 2005.0002
At fifty-one inches in diameter and 661 pounds, Your Imploded View by the Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson appears at first glance like a massive wrecking ball, menacingly suspended just a few feet above the heads of those who pass through the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum. When set in motion, the aluminum sphere swings like a pendulum along the extended north-south axis of the Saligman Family Atrium, inducing sensations of surprise and trepidation. In addition to its kinetic and time-based character, the sphere’s uneven and reflective surface distorts the surrounding space, creating new images of the Museum environment and engaging the viewer in an active dialogue with it. Central to all of Eliasson’s work is the experience of the viewer. In his own words, he is interested in “the self-reflexive potential in art: our ability to evaluate ourselves in our surroundings.” His phrase—“seeing oneself seeing”—which is often quoted, aptly expresses his ambition for the individual spectator and for society as a whole. Eliasson’s art is never solely about private experience, but also about social interaction. Looking at the reflective sphere of Your Imploded View, we enter into a disorienting experience, as we see our image reflected back from a variety of perspectives, confusing the distinction between subject and object. While we see ourselves seeing, we also become aware of others experiencing the same work simultaneously. The meaning of the encounter in the atrium is thus deeply relational and changeable, depending entirely on where you are and what you are doing, as well as on the presence of others sharing the same space. In this way, Your Imploded View exemplifies Eliasson’s principal belief that heightened awareness of the subjective character of perception may provide a means toward greater social consciousness in everyday life. [Cell phone tour, 2019]