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Scale Model Of The Sun Shoots Fiery Flares When You Approach

Start your solar system collection with this responsive sculpture.
November 9, 2011, 6:12pm

The sun has long been an inspiration to artists and scientists, fueling not only plant life, but entire civilisations. Captain Ahab threatened to strike it, holiday makers worship it, and artist Olafur Eliasson recreated its celestial beauty inside the Tate Modern’s vast Turbine Hall back in 2003. But what that project offered in mystical brilliance, it lacked in interactivity. Not so with artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s version of the great burning orb.

Rather than go for a large-scale reproduction like Olafur Eliasson, Lozano-Hemmer chose to convey the sun’s power in a reactive sculpture that flares up as people get near it. Called Flatsun, the work uses animations to recreate that fiery cosmic furnace look that only the sun can pull off so well.

The piece features a panel with 60,000 LEDs that react to people’s motion with the help of “fluid dynamic algorithms.” Using a built-in pinhole camera, it surveys the public, becoming more turbulent and angry as they draw nearer, flaring up as they mill around. And, at 140 cm in diameter, it’s built to scale, making it a billion times smaller than the real thing (and a bit less dangerous to hang on your wall).

Photo by: Antimodular Research