Leviathan by Anish Kapoor
Anish Kapoor’s masterpiece, Leviathan, which was installed in the Grand Palais as the 2011 installment of the wonderful Monumenta series, is a beautiful example of an immersive environment.
The pure geometry of Leviathan’s shape has the appearance of a virtual object, and I’m guessing that Leviathan started out as a 3D model. Indeed Leviathan is the kind of environment that could be easily recreated as a virtual space, if only to let those far away partake of a little bit of the experience.
Properties that could be borrowed for immersive virtual worlds are scale, rounded geometry and, perhaps most distinctive, the utter difference between inside and outside.
Indeed part of the brilliance of Leviathan is that its inside and outside are incommensurable. It is impossible to guess the inside from the outside, and vice versa. The daylit strollers cannot see the viewers swallowed inside the whale’s red stomach, like so many Jonahs waving their cameras.
Outside, Kapoor’s dark Leviathan is so enormous that you cannot see the entire thing, evoking the Indian story of the elephant and the blind men. Like them we assemble the work in our head, by stitching together the three spheres, inside and out. The commissioner’s apt description is that the Grand Palais is “pregnant”.
All photos by Benjamin Bergery