THE UNILEVER SERIES: CARSTEN HÖLLER
This series of slides is done by Carsten Höller, a scientist turned artist. A lot of his works are inspired by human relationships and the social context.
(This slide goes around the structure 12 times, offering panoramic views of London’s cityscape.)
‘A slide is a sculptural work with a pragmatic aspect, a sculpture that you can travel inside. However, it would be a mistake to think that you have to use the slide to make sense of it. looking at the work from the outside is a different but equally valid experience, just as one might contemplate the endless column by Constantin Brancusi from 1938. From an architectural and practical perspective, the slides are one of the building’s means of transporting people, equivalent to the escalators, elevators or stairs. slides deliver people quickly, safely and elegantly to their destinations, they’re inexpensive to construct and energy-efficient. They’re also a device for experiencing an emotional state that is a unique condition somewhere between delight and madness.” – Carsten Höller
Pictures of various other slides at the different locations:
(Isomeric Slides, 2015, Hayward Gallery, London)
(Test Site, 2006, Turbine Hall, Tate Modern, London)
(Vitra Slide Tower, Weil am Rhein, Germany
Photo: Wladyslaw Sojka/archdaily.com)
Fun. The first word that comes to mind when I see his works. However, that’s not what it’s all about. I really like this series because despite it’s simplicity, the artist made various connections to how slides may affect human relationships, emotions and experience as they slide down. The artist’s first thought about how slides could be used as an amazing mode of transportation, but yet it is unusual for it to be used as such, which then inspired him to challenge the use of the slide. He mentioned that his favorite quote for describing a slide is from a French writer by the name of Roger Caillois: He speaks of vertigo as being “a kind of voluptuous panic upon an otherwise lucid mind.” I agree that this statement really captures the essence of the slide because with a slide, you can see how it curves and goes all around, and though you know exactly how the journey would go, you will still get a sense of excitement as you go down the slide. I also like how the faces of the people can be captured at the end of the ride, and from most of the pictures and videos, you can clearly see genuine smiles on the users’ faces, which is what I found the most valuable about this series; which is that it can trigger the emotion of happiness, as short-lived as it may be. The slide allows users to let go and forget about their troubles, albeit for a brief moment. This work taught me how an artwork doesn’t have to be really fanciful for it to be considered art, and that for interactive art, the main point is for the users to enjoy the experience, more than anything else.