Environmental art installations made from Sunlight, prisms, and ancient Roman architecture
Using proprietary prisms and mirrors, Erskine's five installations in the ancient Roman Forum transformed ordinary Sunlight into ever-changing floods of saturated color, bathing 2000 year old archeological sites in other-worldly beauty. 2000 years ago, Ancient Rome was solar powered. Now modern Rome needs to transition to solar energy to maintain our present civilization against the threat of climate change.
NEW LIGHT ON ROME 2000
Materials: Sunlight, laser cut prisms, five ancient Roman buildings
June 21, 2000 – December 21, 2000
Rainbow Architectural Lighting Design for Ancient Rome
Trajan’s Markets Aula and Hemicycle, House of the Knights of Rhodes, Porta di San Sebastiano, Criptoportico of Nero. Stone witnesses to a bygone Roman culture that today needs to be preserved and protected. At the dawn of the new millennium, these two thousand year old buildings are becoming a stage and a backdrop for New Light on Rome 2000, a Solar Spectrum Environmental art installation by Peter Erskine.
Erskine uses high-tech laser-cut prisms and mirrors to spread white sunlight into the colors of the Solar spectrum. He designs 21st century Solar lighting to re-examine these sublime buildings in all the possible angles of Sunlight the ancient Romans experienced 2000 years ago. He floods Roman arches and columns with rainbows.
Changing with the hours and seasons, the art is different every day of the year. The rays of the Sun, the origin of all life, create a fascinating interplay of colors and forms. Here, Solar energy and monuments to human creativity unite to form a living work of art, in which visitors themselves become creators and participants. We see ancient Rome in a new light.
Renewable Solar Energy
New Light on Rome 2000 uses high technology laser-cut prisms to create art with a low impact on the ancient monuments. Fossil fuel emissions are damaging the monuments and creating unhealthy air pollution all over Rome. Globally, fossil fuels are a major cause of climate change and lost biodiversity. Solar panels use the power of the Sun to generate non-polluting electricity. Solar energy can play a major role in solving environmental problems. For seven months, the treasured sites of New Light on Rome 2000 became monuments to past AND future ages.
Ancient Rome Was Solar Powered 2000 Years Ago
New Light on Rome 2000 recalls Solar living in ancient Rome where city people lived in much closer harmony with nature than we do today. Pliny the Younger, in his letter to Galus, describes how Sunlight, sound, wind and water are the most important components for defining architectural spaces. Erskine uses these natural elements in his Solar art as well. In the great Hemicycle of Trajan’s Markets, visitors can see the spectrum light vibrating in the wind that sweeps down the colonnade, vibrating the taught prism panels like the strings on a bass violin.
The windows in Porta di San Sebastian and in the Hemicycle and great Aula of Trajan’s Markets were designed so that the Sun’s heat and light would not enter these buildings at noon in June and July, but would do so during the autumn, winter and spring, creating a Solar powered passive air conditioning and heating system. Because of this ancient Solar design, the Aula, Hemicycle and Prota di San Sebastian are without spectrum light from 10:30 AM to 2:30 PM in June and July. On the other hand, the underground Criptoportico of Nero and the House of the Knights of Rhodes are cool and radiant at summer noon.