CenSes warms up Getty’s artistic take on climate change

Wednesday 26 May 2021

Art and science collaboration with Danish Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson will go on show in Los Angeles

The Institute of Philosophy’s (IP) Centre for the Study of the Senses (CenSes),  part of the School of Advanced Study at the University of London, is about to develop further its joint academic and artistic collaborations with The Getty Center and Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) in Los Angeles that will culminate in a radical new set of sensory experiences and experiments to accompany an exhibition on sustainability and climate change.

The relationship with Getty goes back to April 2018 when IP director Professor Barry Smith, and Professor Ophelia Deroy, director of the institute’s interdisciplinary Centre for Research in Experimental Aesthetics, Technology and Engineering, ran a series of experiments marrying taste and sound with more than a thousand students at The Getty Center’s College Night. That work was linked to the groundbreaking Tate project, TA(s)TE at Tate, carried out with the Warburg Institute in 2017.

This new project brings IP into collaboration with the Danish Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson whose interactive works encourage emotional and participatory responses to complex issues such as sustainability and climate change. A Getty exhibition research support sum of $175,000 will stimulate contributions to the Pacific Standard Time series of exhibitions in 2024.

The theme is art and science, and among the grants that Getty has given to museums in LA is for the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) to host an exhibition and retrospective by Olafur Eliasson on climate change. Through his multidisciplinary and collaborative studio practice, the artist is known for combining simple natural elements such as light, water and movement to engage and alter viewers' senses. MOCA's exhibition will feature his key works from the past three decades, centred on a new commission: a large-scale installation responding to the climate crisis and designed for the industrial environs of the Geffen Contemporary.

In addition to the highly interactive public viewing experience, an education lab created in collaboration with GCI will engage visitors in new scientific and technical research into Eliasson's work as a case study for the conservation of experiential art installations. Other outreach activities will focus on topics related to climate change, such as social justice, environmental policy and community activism.

To minimise the exhibition's carbon footprint, the project team will work with an international advisory group of climate scientists and activists to explore more sustainable ways to manufacture, transport, and display the artworks. Next to the exhibition space at the Geffen Building is The Warehouse, a hangar space, which will be devoted to experimental and immersive experiences that the Centre for the Study of the Senses will curate and run with Studio Olafur Eliasson.

‘This allows us to continue our collaboration with the Getty Center and the Getty Conservation Institute in particular, to contribute to the Pacific Standard Time series of exhibitions,’ says IP’s Professor Barry Smith. ‘These activities and installations will be designed by Ophelia Deroy and myself, together with our partners and collaborators who helped us put together the events at Tate. It is a great opportunity to welcome new visitors into the space at MOCA in Downtown LA.

‘We have already started our preliminary meetings with Tom Learner, head of science at GCI, and Rebecca Stevenson, MOCA’s research director, and will soon meet with Studio Olafur Eliasson. Needless to say, we are delighted to have this opportunity.’

For further information, please contact Professor Barry Smith.