World illuminator is an artwork that redirects sunlight onto a fixed point by adjusting a mirror in concert with the ‘movement’ of the sun across the sky. In development at the artist’s studio for a number of years, the apparatus belongs to a family of optical devices called sun trackers and known formally as heliostats – a word deriving from Greek roots that mean stationary sun.
Eliasson emphasizes the sun tracker’s ability to make explicit a unique position on earth as it revolves the sun. The normal ‘movement’ of the sun through a room, after all, is no movement of the sun, but rather the optical result of the movement of the room on the rotating earth. The sun tracker thus links artwork and visitor to the earth’s surface, to the weather environments that determine the visibility of the sun, and to the broader planetary cosmos beyond.
In his words: ‘To track the sun is to track yourself, because the sun tracker locates the centre of your orbital ellipse, giving your position right now and rendering visible your path. The reflexive potential lies in understanding that we are in a way the mirrors, circulating, tracking, spinning in our Keplerian ellipses. You and I are not the centre of the universe, but in fact spinning in altruistic space.’