Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson has built a career on ambitious, large-scale and innovative public installation art projects that lean into themes of nature, often play with the practical effects of light and rely on mechanical and architectural technologies. Many of these works are awe-inspiring and some have spawned unforgettable images that have become iconic in their own right. His “The Weather Project” at the Tate Modern in the U.K. in 2003 is perhaps the most recognizable of such works.)
To this body of work comes his installation of “Atmospheric Wave Wall” in downtown Chicago. See the video above. On its surface and at a distance, it appears as merely a massive abstract mural, albeit a beautiful and flat two-dimensional painting writ large. But upon closer inspection the wall is not flat at all. It’s an undulating, textured surface made of Penrose tiling. The effect is like the surface of ocean water. Depending on the angle at which the viewer looks at the wall, the artwork appears differently as light is reflected off the curved tiles. It’s a neat optical trick that draws viewers further into the artwork.