Carsten Höller worked as a biologist before becoming an artist, and his art works might be thought of as experiments that act on the viewer in surprising ways. He has stated that experience is the 'material' that he uses to create works that alter the viewer's sensory perception, behaviour and sense of order or logic.
His Left/Right slide 2010, commissioned for the '21st Century: Art in the First Decade' exhibition, is part of a series of slides created for venues across Europe and the United States since his first slide in Berlin in 1998. Höller described these slides as devices for eliciting 'an emotional state that is a unique condition somewhere between delight and madness'. He is keenly interested in the private (mental) sensations generated by sliding, and embraces the idea that the experience will affect or 'change' participants:
"The experience of sliding is a very hard to describe and peculiar phenomenon. The best description I have found was in a book by Robert Caillois. He speaks about vertigo and describes sliding as a 'voluptuous panic on an otherwise lucid mind".
It is also interesting to think about Höller's slides in relation to different levels of spectatorship. The slides can be viewed as sculptures in the Gallery of Modern Art, encompassing the facial expressions of descending sliders. For those that participate in the work, however, there is the added dimension of observing their own inner spectacle as they hurtle through space.
Carsten Holler | Belgium/Sweden b.1961 | Left/Right Slide 2010 | Stainless steel, polycarbonate and rubber mats | 950 x 2562 x 412cm (installed) | Commissioned for '21st Century: Art in the First Decade' | Purchased 2010 with a special allocation from the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation | Collection: Queensland Art Gallery