Olafur Eliasson: Seeing spheres: Chase Center, San Francisco
“Seeing spheres is a public space that contains you and contains multitudes,” said Eliasson. “We often think of public space as empty, negative space in the city, viewed from a car or crossed on the way to somewhere else. Seeing spheres offers a place to pause, where you see yourself from the outside, as a participant in society.”
Seeing spheres, 2019, consists of five (5) fifteen-and-a-half-feet-tall polished hydroformed steel spheres that stand in a circle around a central space. Each sphere supports a flat, circular mirrored face, framed by a ring of LED lights, which is oriented inward to reflect the mirrored faces of the surrounding spheres. Together they produce a surprising environment of multilayered, reflected spaces in which the same people and settings appear again and again, visible from various unexpected angles. Tunnel-like sets of nested reflections open up in the mirrors, repeating countless times and disappearing into the distance. Situated on Chase Center’s 25,000 square foot triangular plaza in front of the East Entrance to the arena, this striking new artwork establishes a prominent public setting in Thrive City for visitors to meet and interact.
“Eliasson’s global reputation for innovation and creativity is now on full display in San Francisco,” said Welts. “Seeing spheres will be an instant must-see for Bay Area residents and a magnet for visitors from around the world.”
Eliasson frequently uses mirrors to expand spaces and create a subtle and playful sense of spatial confusion that stimulates awareness of our bodies and perception. Seeing spheres enables viewers to see themselves from the outside, as co-participants in the shared world that appears within the layers of virtual space conjured by the cluster of giant mirrors. The artwork heightens visitors’ awareness of themselves and their surroundings, exemplifying art’s potential to, in Eliasson’s words, “train our capacities for perceiving and interpreting the world.”