Each night in the month of May, the sun will rise over London’s Piccadilly Circus just as darkness falls. You’ll feel compelled to stare at the unusual sight, but you are cautioned by the renowned gay artist, David Hockney, “Remember you cannot look at the sun or death for very long.”
That is Hockney’s title for this work of art, an animated sunrise appearing out of the darkness, symbolizing hope for a brighter future, as it plays on big screens around the world.
One of the world’s most celebrated artists, Hockney’s new video project will be shown on London’s Piccadilly Lights screen every evening in May at 20:21 and digitally at the same time (8:21 BST) via circa.art.
Hockney with works from his current exhibition.
The public art coincides with the release of Hockney’s new book, titled Spring Cannot Be Cancelled, and his Royal Academy exhibition The Arrival of Spring, Normandy, 2020 which runs May 23 to September 26, 2021.
The artist, in 2017, with his painting "The Arrival Of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire in 2011."
“What does the world look like?" Hockney asks in an artist’s statement. "We have to take time to see its beauty. That’s what I hope my work will encourage people to do when they see it on the large screens.”
"The video is short," writes Henry Little. "Not quite ninety seconds for one loop. The motif is timeless and universal. Sun rose on the first day, it will rise on the last day. Sunrise shines throughout world religions, mythologies, and cultures. An event inherently pregnant with a pluralistic resonance which belies the matter of fact solar dynamics at work. The earth spins on its axis for another time in the roughly four point five billion years of existence. Big whoop. Sunrise is simultaneously so utterly mundane and still, so powerfully magical. It ‘means’ nothing and yet, it can mean anything and everything to someone, somewhere."
Hockney is just the latest artist to stage work on the screen, following the likes of Ai Weiwei and Patti Smith in a global collaboration, curated by Josef O’Connor, the founder and artistic director of Circa, to showcase digital public art. The unveiling of the Hockney piece was choreographed with screens across the globe, presented in partnership with Times Square Arts’ Midnight Moment program in New York; and being synchronized on over 70 electronic billboards, including Coex K-Pop Square, the largest LED screen in South Korea, and Yunika Vision in Japan.