Solar Equation looms over Fed Square

Jun 7, 2010
  • Article by Online Editor
  • Photography by Julie Renouf

A large-scale, animated public artwork that simulates the turbulence, flares and sunspots of the sun’s surface has opened at Melbourne’s Federation Square as part of the Light in Winter program.

The artwork, created by artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, highlights the beauty and complexity of solar behaviour as recorded by recent astronomical observations. The installation will loom over the square until 4 July, and will be lit up from sunset until midnight every evening.

Lozano-Hemmer says the artwork seeks to provide a platform for discussion about environmental issues such as drought, conservation and global warming, while presenting a poetic and mysterious backdrop.

Speaking about the installation, he said: “I am fascinated by our dependence on the sun’s violent explosions to survive. I want to make an artificial sun that would make Goethe, NASA and Blake proud.”

The installation features the world’s largest custom-built spherical balloon. Five graphic projectors illuminate the sphere with a constantly changing display that never repeats itself. The display simulates the activity of the sun’s surface, generated by live mathematical equations.

The energy used to power Solar Equation comes from wind-generated green power, while materials and labour have been locally sourced, where possible. Federation Square estimates that the energy used to power the installation for one month will be less than that used for one televised football game.

The Light in Winter is a month-long celebration of light, enlightenment and shared cultural experiences, with a free program of concerts, film screenings, light-based artworks, exhibitions, forums and the Solstice Celebration on 19 June. The free event runs fro 4 June to 4 July 2010.

For more information about The Light in Winter, visit [“”:]

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