A monumental new artwork by artist and designer Es Devlin, BLUESKYWHITE, commissioned by 180 Studios will be unveiled at 180 The Strand, London on 13 October 2021. The work is part of a new immersive group show: LUX: New Wave of Contemporary Art organised by SUUM Project in collaboration with Fact at 180 Studios, featuring works by Refik Anadol, Carsten Nicolai, Hito Steyerl, Random International and Universal Everything.
Es Devlin’s new work has been made in response to solar engineering proposals to ‘dim the sun’ in order to counter global heating, with unpredictable potential side effects including an end to blue skies.
BLUESKYWHITE is formed of two parts: in Part I, text read by the artist from Byron’s 1816 poem Darkness underscores the viewer’s passage through a 24m long red-lit tunnel.
The poem was written during the aftermath of the eruption of Mount Tambora, Indonesia on 5th April 1815, which released more than 100,000,000 tonnes of gas and fine particles into the atmosphere, resulting in a perceptible dimming of the sun, and a reduction of the earth’s temperature of around 3 degrees celsius in what became known as the ‘year without summer’ whose intense glowing red sunsets were documented in the paintings of J.M.W. Turner and Caspar David Friedrich.
Part II draws from contemporary solar geo-engineering models documented by Elizabeth Kolbert and others which use volcanic eruptions like Tambora as precedent to suggest that a haze of suspended particles might reduce global temperature to pre-industrial levels while potentially turning blue skies permanently white.
Es Devlin said:
“The work invites the viewer to experience two perspectives: in the tunnel they are immersed in a nineteenth century Romantic poet’s first hand account of ‘the year without summer’ caused by an 1815 volcanic eruption. Once through the tunnel they are presented with contemporary accounts of solar geo-engineered solutions to global heating based on the phenomenon experienced by Byron – none of which feel palatable yet some of which might become inevitable’”