Laurent Grasso’s SolarWind is a spectacular Parisian light installation that reflects data about solar flares.

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

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

The Eye
Slate’s design blog.
Feb. 19 2016 9:03 AM

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

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

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.”

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.

Kristin Hohenadel's writing on design has appeared in publications including the New York Times, Fast Company, Vogue, Elle Decor, Lonny, and Apartment Therapy.