Olafur Eliasson › The Weather Project, Tate Modern, London, 2004

The subject of the weather has long shaped the content of everyday conversation. In The Weather Project, Olafur Eliasson takes this ubiquitous subject as the basis for exploring ideas about experiences, mediation and representation.


Eliasson views the weather – wind, rain, sun – as one of the few fundamental encounters with nature that can still be experienced in the city.

He is also interested in how the weather shapes a city and, in turn, how the city itself becomes a filter through which to experience the weather, Eliasson has said.
Every city mediates its own weather. As inhabitants, we have grown accustomed to the weather as mediated by the city.

This takes place in numerous ways, on various collective levels ranging from hyper-mediated (or representational) experiences, such as the television weather forecast, to more direct and tangible experiences, like simply getting wet while walking down the street on a rainy day. A level between the two extremes would be sitting inside, looking out of a window onto a sunny or rainy street. The window, as the boundary of one’s tactile engagement with the outside, mediates one’s experience of the exterior weather accordingly.


Eliasson’s impressive installation draws attention to the fundamental act of perceiving the world around us. But, like the weather, our perceptions are in a continual state of flux. The dynamic variations in the composition of the ephemeral elements of The Weather Project parallel the unpredictability of the weather outside, which despite the efforts and sabotage of humankind still remains beyond our control. 


Tate Museum › 2004


Olafur Eliasson › The Weather Project, Tate Modern, London, 2004

Two lights illuminate our world. One is generated by the sun’s rays, and another one answers — the light of our eyes.
It is this close-knit relationship that enables us to see.
If one element were missing, we would be blind. 

Arthur Zajonc

Moholy Nagy’s holistic approach, “to feel what we know and to know what we feel,” is subsumed in Eliasson’s work. He tries “to make us aware of our motions and to include us in the exhibition in a way that allows us to perceive what we know and to know what we perceive.” 


The installation can in many ways be considered exemplary of his works with light, and can even be extended to include his previous oeuvre. Olafur Eliasson draws on the natural elements of light, earth, fire, air, and water in order to focus on the central themes of nature, natural processes and the (transformed) understanding of natural and the natural environment. However, the questions about climate or the morphology of landscapes that appear in his work are in no way self-referential, but are always aimed at the participation of the persons who share the same sphere with these phenomena: “I am particularly interested in the relationship between the individual, the visitor and the environment in with he finds himself.


In Eliasson’s work, light has a “nature” of its own, it is part of the artist’s “experiment set-up”. He insists on declaring that he is working on “models of perception and not on perception itself. These models have represented the historical spaces over the past hundred years. It is this that I am concerned with and that I also question”.

Annelie Lutgens + Holger Broeker › Olafur Eliasson - Your Lighthouse, 2004