MIT.nano Building 12
Northwest Passage, a site-specific installation by Olafur Eliasson, is situated on the ceiling of the breezeway of Building 12, MIT.nano. Eliasson’s installation, spanning 90 feet and comprised of 7 LED rings hanging from and reflected in 30 polished stainless-steel panels, welcomes visitors to the building and engages the pedestrian path on the north side of the complex devoted to the production and research of nanoscience and nanotechnology. The panels, each of varied size and abstract form, are based on the silhouette and configuration of the pattern of free-floating ice found in the Parry Channel of the Northwest Passage between North America and the Arctic Circle. This project draws inspiration from the dramatic thinning of the ice coverage–a historically impassable frozen route through the Arctic Ocean linking the Pacific to the Atlantic. As of the summer of 2007, the effects of climate change have allowed vessels to sail the passage without requiring an icebreaker, an event that scientists predict will become more and more common with the continued effects of global warming. This development is both a byproduct of global industry and at the same time encourages the growth of trans-global freight shipping which will only further impact the climate.
Reflected in the mirrored surfaces of the stainless-steel panels are 7 semi-circular rings, each lined with a mono-frequency LED light and diffuser. The glowing semi-circles are attached at various points on various panels of the installation and depending on the viewer’s perspective, the mirrored surfaces complete the geometry of the circle of light. Eliasson creates an optical illusion that entices further inspection from the viewer, pulling visitors underneath the breezeway and into the hub of research and activity that is MIT.nano.
Olafur Eliasson was selected for the commission by Percent-for-Art committee members including: Arne Abramson, Director, Capital Projects, MIT; Jesús A. del Alamo, Director of the Microsystems Technology Laboratories, Donner Professor, and Professor of Electrical Engineering in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, MIT; Richard Amster, Director, MIT Campus Construction; Vladimir Bulović, MIT.nano Faculty Lead, Associate Dean of Innovation, Professor of Engineering, Fariborz Maseeh (1990) Chair in Emerging Technology, MIT; Pam Delpeinich, Director, MIT Office of Campus Planning; Thayer Donham, Senior Project Manager, MIT Office of Campus Planning; Paul C. Ha, Director, MIT List Visual Arts Center; Samir Srouji, Principal, Wilson Architects Inc; and Travis Wanat, Senior Project Manager, Capital Projects, MIT.
Northwest Passage was commissioned with MIT Percent-for-Art Funds and generous gifts from Robert Sanders (’64) & Sara-Ann Sanders, Fotene & Tom Coté, The David Bermant Foundation, Donors to the 2014 McDermott Award Gala, and the Council for the Arts at MIT.
Olafur Eliasson (b. 1967, Copenhagen, Denmark) lives and works in Copenhagen and Berlin. Eliasson’s work in sculpture, painting, photography, film, and installation have been exhibited widely throughout the world. In addition to creating works for museum and gallery settings, his practice engages the broader public sphere through architectural projects and interventions in civic space. In 1995 Eliasson founded Studio Olafur Eliasson, a Berlin-based think tank, to expand and leverage multi-disciplinary conceptualization and planning for future projects. Members in the studio include craftsmen, specialized technicians, architects, archivists, administrators, programmers, art historians, and cooks.
In 2014 Olafur Eliasson was awarded MIT’s 2014 Eugene McDermott Award, in recognition of his influential art practice and its broader significance in the public sphere.
Olafur Eliasson: Northwest Passage | Artscope | Donna Dodson
The 'Northwest Passage' At MIT Reminds Us Of Warming Waters And Our Role In Climate Change | WBUR The Artery | Mali Sastri
Stainless, steel, LED lights, diffusers
Commissioned with MIT Percent-for-Art Funds and generous gifts from Robert Sanders (’64) & Sara-Ann Sanders, Fotene & Tom Coté, The David Bermant Foundation, Donors to the 2014 McDermott Award Gala, and the Council for the Arts at MIT.