The Mathematical Tourist
By Ivars Peterson
October 18, 2007
In the forested mountains near Bergen, Norway, a glowing orb brightens the long nights of winter. The source of light is an illuminated artwork called "Sol," created by Norwegian artist Finn Eirik Modahl.
Resting in the hollow of a concrete base that resembles tiers of frozen lava, the central structure is a geodesic truncated icosahedron constructed from steel and glass. About 6 feet tall, it shines with a warming glowand invites visitors to come near and touch the sun.
"The concept is meant to appeal to heart and mind," Modahl says. "I want contemporary art to create a dynamic, giving the people living around the sculpture a chance to take part in it."
"Sol" is one of several installations at the Pulse Sculpture Complex, which integrates artworks with innovative dwelling designs.
In an earlier effort, unveiled in 2000, Modahl created a dramatic obelisk, set at the heart of grassy expanse threaded by a spiral walkwaysurrounded by mountains and overlooking a fjord. Called "Elektra" and located in Tyssedal, Norway, the towering monument is made of granite and glass. The stone pillars were "cracked" rather than carved into their final form. The glass inclusiona thick vertical vein in the stonewas made from hundreds of hand-cut glass plates, which glow with an eerie green light. Modahl describes the hue as the color of a mountain lake.
Earlier in his career, Modahl had devoted his time to installation and performance art, particularly in exploring interactions between art and commerce. For two years, he was director of the Bomuldsfabriken Kunsthall, one of the leading venues for contemporary art in Norway. Lately, in developing the concepts for his monumental sculptures, Modahl has turned more and more to mathematics for inspiration and structure.
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