Olafur Eliasson and Psychology of colour research

To get some inspiration and direction for my project ‘Pain’ I decided to look at Olafur Eliasson as I realised that the easiest way to create pain in the viewer would be through the use of colour. The most important part of this artists practice to my current project is the way in which he uses colour, in the form of vibrant room lighting to ‘toy with viewers’ perceptions and to probe the nature of seeing.’ I find this concept absolutely fascinating as it means that his audience have a physical experience by viewing his art in the flesh. For example in some of his works he fills a whole room with nothing but neon lights emitting one colour, which results in the viewers vision being physically effected as they stop processing this colour after a while, so once they leave the room the way they perceive colour is different. I think this is very clever as very little artists work has effect on its audience nowadays as it seems that we are immune to being shocked by art but Eliasson’s technique means that the viewer has a physical reaction, whether or not they like the piece or even understand it. He has also caused some of his viewers to have a sensation of seasickness when placing a rotating mirror at an angle from a gallery ceiling. I think (although this is not the meaning of his work) that this is an interesting representation of how far art has gone, as we can no longer be shocked by Gothic novels or gruesome images, only by things that physically make our bodies react. From this interpretation I decided to look further into the psychology of colour, to see what colours would create pain in the viewer subconsciously. From this research I found that surprisingly too much yellow can create feelings of anxiety, depression and even make the viewer suicidal, whereas most people would associate this colour with happiness and positivity. I am now going to do some drawings to decide how I will develop these concepts that I have taken from my research, which I feel has been very beneficial to my project.

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