The sun and sunsets have long been an inspiration for art and architecture, from the early sun temples of Ancient Egypt to J.M.W. Turner‘s celebrated watercolors and Olafur Eliasson’s installation The Weather Project. Offering a crowdsourced, experiential update on this tradition is Studio Tobias Klein’s Virtual Sunset, which was exhibited at the Victoria and Albert Museum in Kensington, London.
Studio Tobias Klein is an experimental design studio that specializes in architectural systems and interactive installations. For this piece, they asked users to submit images of the sunset from around the globe by uploading them to a website where they were geolocated. These snapshots were then projected in real-time onto PVC tubing to create a three-dimensional ephemeral artwork that captures the transient but sublime nature of a sunset—turning what can often be a private, secluded moment into a collective, tangible experience.
We spoke to Klein about the work and his artistic ideas and motivations. He explained how he wanted to create a space where both the light of a sunset and the digital world could be experienced as a physical environment. He also discussed the notion of time and the influence of Turner on the project, “I certainly looked at references to Turner when constructing the installation. In fact, the first time we thought about the installation, the first images we thought about, the first qualities we thought about, was the environmental qualities of that light, the weather, and the density of the space that he depicts and shows as a glow in an urban environment.”
The piece is an ongoing three-year project and will next appear at the Industry Gallery in Washington, D.C. on October 27, 2012.