The Eye

A Spectacular Light Installation Maps Solar Winds for Parisians Stuck in Traffic

1 Laurent Grasso, SolarWind, 2016 ∏ ADAGP - Semapa Paris Rive Gauche - Ciments Calcia - Eva Albarran & Co, photo Romain Darnaud
SolarWind by Laurent Grasso is a new permanent art installation in Paris that uses space weather data to create a dynamic light sculpture.

Romain Darnaud

To lift the spirits of the more than 1 million Parisian motorists stuck in traffic on the Périphérique road ringing the city, French artist Laurent Grasso has created SolarWind, a monumental light installation projected onto the walls of a pair of 131-foot-tall silos.

2 Laurent Grasso, SolarWind, 2016 ∏ ADAGP - Semapa Paris Rive Gauche - Ciments Calcia - Eva Albarran & Co, photo Romain Darnaud

Romain Darnaud

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But there’s more to this artsy night rainbow for weary Parisian commuters that glows like a manufactured urban nod to the Northern Lights.

4 Laurent Grasso, SolarWind, 2016 ∏ ADAGP - Semapa Paris Rive Gauche - Ciments Calcia - Eva Albarran & Co, photo Romain Darnaud

Romain Darnaud

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11 Laurent Grasso, SolarWind, 2016 ∏ ADAGP - Semapa Paris Rive Gauche - Ciments Calcia - Eva Albarran & Co, photo Romain Darnaud

Romain Darnaud

“SolarWind recalls the geomagnetic storms that caused the 1989 blackout in Canada as all electrical devices broke down,” Grasso said in a press release about the installation, which opened on Jan. 25. “This work addresses our modern fears by establishing a tight connection between the unknown embodied by solar winds and its possible impact here on Earth.”

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8 Laurent Grasso, SolarWind, 2016 ∏ ADAGP - Semapa Paris Rive Gauche - Ciments Calcia - Eva Albarran & Co, photo Romain Darnaud

Romain Darnaud

Grasso used data collected by the French Space Observatory to create an algorithm that translates real-time solar activity into a dynamic, constantly fluctuating color and light show. This poetic blend of art and science now serves as a permanent beacon for motorists and has been engineered to remain visible for surrounding high rises in the 13th arrondissement, an area undergoing major redevelopment.

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