Human Beings versus Nature: A Short Play

The Big Idea:

How can art affect our perceptions of nature?

Activity overview

Eliasson experiments with non-permanent materials such as light, sound, water, moss, and ice to create installations that provide complex experiences. His works engage the senses and recognize the viewer as an active participant. Eliasson is deeply concerned with how people view and interact with their world, and how art can help us see differently. In this activity you will write a short play. You will be asked to describe the characters and set in detail, noting ephemeral elements such as lighting, sound, and smell. Writing, like Eliasson's art, is a process. Therefore, you will also participate in peer editing and revise your drafts. Finally, you and your classmates will perform each play.

Look closely

Explore the works of Olafur Eliasson online. Be sure to click on all images, read all documents, watch videos, and use the zoom tool to look closely at the works of art. Choose one of these works and answer the following questions:

  1. How do you think it would feel to be inside the art work/installation that Eliasson has created?
  2. Which of Eliasson's art works include natural elements? Describe them and identify each one and note how they are used.
  3. Which of Eliasson's art works include technological elements? Describe them and identify how technology is used.
  4. How does the element of time play for the work? Would the work appear different at different times of the day? Will the art work change over time?
  5. How does Eliasson construct an alternate reality?

In this activity you will:

  1. write a short play that takes place over the course of a single day
  2. work with a partner to peer edit each other's work
  3. revise your first draft
  4. select classmates to perform your play for the class and direct them
  5. perform in other students' plays and reflect on the process

You will be graded on:

  1. quality of descriptive writing and clear expression of thought
  2. use of the five senses in your play
  3. participation in the peer-editing process
  4. your performance in the play
  5. written reflection