Rafael Lozano-Hemmer

‘Solar Equation’ at The Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec (MNBAQ)

Sep 27 2018 - Aug 29 2019

After Germany, Australia, England and South Korea, the Canadian premiere of Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s installation Solar Equation affords the MNBAQ an opportunity to focus on current affairs through reflection on the ecological and philosophical nature and future of our planet.

Solar Equation, a large-scale work, will present a reconstitution of the Sun in the Grand Hall of the Pierre Lassonde Pavilion. It is made up of LEDs suspended in the public area at the entrance to the MNBAQ and relies on data recorded by the NASA Solar Observatory. Constantly shifting animations offer visitors a glimpse of different types of movements representing the turbulence observed on the Sun’s surface, a majestic natural phenomenon recently discovered by astronomy researchers.

The work’s scope and the project’s boldness are incomparable. Solar Equation has the potential to move us, heighten awareness of global warming and our relationship to the living environment and, above all, to draw us together in a shared experience.

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About Volumetric Solar Equation

Volumetric Solar Equation is an iconic chandelier, a constantly changing, spherical volumetric display that simulates the turbulence, flares, and spots visible on the surface of the sun. The piece is animated by fluid dynamic equations—reaction-diffusion, Navier-Stokes, Perlin noise, and fractal flames—combined with the latest imagery from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) and Solo and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), and is inspired by geometric abstraction artworks by Latin American artists such as Jesús Rafael Soto, Carlos Cruz Diez, and Julio Le Parc. The content consists of a live simulation, not a video loop, that never repeats itself. Three metres in diameter, the sphere is made of 25,580 LED lights on 342 battens, which are arranged according to equations developed by Pierre de Fermat, specifically a spiraling pattern used to describe plant phyllotaxis. The sphere, therefore, has no vanishing points.

While pertinent environmental questions related to global warming, drought, or UV radiation might arise from the contemplation of this piece, Solar Equation also intends to evoke romantic environments of ephemerality, mystery, and paradox. Cultures around the world each have unique sets of solar mythologies and this project seeks to be a platform for both the expression of traditional symbolism and the emergence of new stories.

Solar Equation is co-produced by The Amorepacific Museum of Art, Seoul and the Musée National des Beaux-Arts, Quebec. The first Solar Equation was a projected aerostat and was commissioned by Federation Square in Melbourne in 2010.