SOE KITCHEN 101 - a temporary culinary project in Reykjavik - is open until the end of the month. Check out the events programme, workshops, menues, and book a seat at the long table on the project site
1m3 light, 1999. How does one visualise the ephemeral? How does one measure the non-visible? My son recently asked me whether he had saved much CO2 from being emitted into the air by using the Little Sun solar lamp I designed. He also wanted to know why, if a tonne of CO2 weighs so much, it does not drop to the ground. And where is it? To him, a tonne is heavy and physical and not an intangible mass distributed in the atmosphere. His questions made me realise how little I myself know about CO2. When I was my son’s age, back in the late seventies, there was no discussion of climate change. Nature was where I spent my summers, in a tent in the Icelandic highlands, a stark contrast to the Copenhagen I lived in. These natural and manmade realms could not be more separate. But today, there is no nature outside of human activity. Our survival and future depend on understanding the effects of CO2 consumption and acting on that understanding.
But what do we understand? What, for instance, is a tonne of CO2? Is it hot or cold, wet or dry? Perhaps it would help to know that one tonne of CO2 could be imagined as a cube the size of a three-storey house, or that, when frozen, it would form a block of dry ice about 0.67 cubic meters in size. But what does that actually tell me if I do not know how much CO2 I produce in a year or on an average day? What does it tell me if I do not sense my interrelationship with planet Earth?
We need science to tell us that the weight of CO2 is based on the atomic mass of the molecules. A scientist can tell me that a tonne of CO2 is equal to the energy expenditure of a house for about a month, a small car driven for two days non-stop, or a 747 flying for less than two minutes; and that because of the greenhouse effect, excessive amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere lead to global warming.
But, for many people, science alone is not enough to compel action. It struck me, when I was looking up this data, that it was familiar, that I had seen it more than once in the media, and I somehow knew most of it. So I asked myself why does knowing not translate into doing when so much is at stake?
Does nature have to come with a price tag in order for us to take care of it? Artist Amy Balkin’s project and conceptual artwork PUBLIC SMOG questions the pricing of the atmosphere in the form of quota systems.
At the recent Pathway to Paris in San Francisco, Olafur capped off the Global Climate Action Summit by leading the audience in creating a Little Sunrise using 2,400 Little Sun solar lamps. After the performance, the lamps were sent, with the help of the Upaya Zen Center and Everest Awakening, to communities living in high-altitude, remote areas of Nepal without access to electricity. Founded by Rebecca Foon and Jesse Paris Smith, and organised in partnership with 350.org and the United Nations Development Programme, Pathway to Paris brings together musicians, artists, activists, academics, mayors, and innovators to help raise consciousness of the urgency of climate action and of solutions for turning the Paris Agreement into action.
Send a Little Sun lamp to someone in urgent need of energy: littlesunfoundation.org/donate
I’m extremely excited to share with you the new design of SOE.TV. Conceived with my studio team, this platform is a transmitter of concrete and abstract ideas, of topics that are relevant to my artistic practice and to issues central to the work of Studio Olafur Eliasson. SOE.TV is starting out locally, focusing on what I know well, but in the near future I hope that it will outgrow me, becoming a go-to platform that intertlaces culture and society. I’m positive that this clear, bold site, designed and developed by Alan Woo, will speak to art world and non–art audiences alike