I was completely blown away by this piece by Olafur Eliasson – Big Bang Fountain, 2014 – on display at the Moderna Museet, Stockholm as part of the artist’s exhibition, ‘Reality Machines’. The delivery of the piece is really very simple; a small water fountain in a pitch black room, illuminated for periods of mere nano-seconds by a flash of blue light.
With every flash, the viewer is provided with a unique ‘image’. The flashes seem to catch the specific moment between upwards and downwards motion; something which you would never be able to capture in normal light or time. As the artist explains ‘we see things that are unseeable, that you cannot see’… the water is ‘the sculpture in the show that you can never ever make a mathematical form out of.’
Not only is each illuminated form different every time you see it, it is one that is completely at odds with, and much more intricately beautiful than, how you conventionally see or experience flowing water. What I found most fascinating, however, was the way the viewer is acquainted with a constant contradiction between the sound of the flowing, moving water (which can be heard despite the darkness) and the still ‘images’ as produced by the flashing blue light.