In the pantheon of digitally captured daily life, sunset snaps just might eclipse foamy lattes, pedicured feet on a beach, and duck-faced selfies as the most popular scene to capture and preserve. Wherever you are in the world, there’s something almost magnetic about watching that massive, fiery orb descend and disappear over the horizon with the knowledge it will emerge again, still burning bright, on the other side of the earth tomorrow. Tobias Klein, of his eponymous London-based studio, set out to connect camera-happy denizens from across the globe with his crowdsourced installation Virtual Sunset, which recently finished its run at the Industry Gallery in Washington D.C.
In order to conjure this sense of a shared experience, prior to the event Klein encouraged participants to submit their own photos of sunsets via his site. These were then geolocated on a single map online which provided the basis for the live exhibition, where–bear with me here–two projectors on opposite sides of a room showed successive pics onto a volumetric screen composed of translucent tubing suspended from a scaffolding. (Now would be a good time to go ahead and take a minute to watch the video.)
Rather than simply sit, stare, and think deep thoughts–standard practice for watching sunsets–visitors were encouraged to make their way through the soft tubes as the images cycled through, for an almost otherworldly effect. It’s impossible to parse the particulars of each individual shot; as such the result, it seems, is not about actually seeing the sun go down, but instead to sense the changing colors, and feel the event in a way you just don’t get from your eyes alone.