Olafur Eliasson is internationally recognised for working in a variety of media, including installation, photography, painting, film, architecture, and design. As part of his practice, he engages with arts education, policy-making, and the issues of sustainability, access to clean energy, and climate change. He has been active in the digital realm for many years and recently begun to explore the potential of virtual reality.
In Rainbow, Eliasson generates an ephemeral natural phenomenon – a rainbow – through digital processes. Just as a rainbow only appears when light, water droplets, and the viewer’s eye are positioned at a certain angle, the virtual rainbow can only be seen when the viewer’s movement produces a correlation between these three points; it slips in and out of view within a slowly falling curtain of droplets as the viewer moves in the virtual space.
Handheld controllers enable an additional layer of interaction with the softly falling virtual water. Rainbow is also inherently social: multiple users are invited to join the space at the same time.
Eliasson’s long-term interests in the relation between self and other and between self and surroundings have profoundly informed this new artwork, with the multi-participant function being a key feature that paves the way for new spaces for and of art in VR.