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On the road with a fake traveling sun (pictures)

Let the sun shine in. Two Norwegian artists create a giant glowing LED orb that travels by land and sea to some of the country's darkest spots, bringing light during winter.

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Leslie Katz
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1 of 8 Lisa Pacini and Christine Istad

Hauling the sun

Living in Norway, visual artists Lisa Pacini and Christine Istad have seen their share of winters when parts of their country go without natural sunlight for as long as three months. In response, they decided to bring the sun (or an approximation of it at least) to their countrymen with Traveling Sun, a glowing orb that shifts between warm orange, red, and lilac hues.

The sun made its 1,000-mile-plus journey from Oslo to Tromso suspended from a hanger above a flatbed trailer pulled by a truck.

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2 of 8 Lisa Pacini and Christine Istad

Icy roads

The mobile sun faced treacherous winter roads during its travels through Norway. "There were six serious accidents on the way through Majavatn in Nordland alone," the artists report. "At the Polar Circle, the truck was almost blown off the road, and the wind was so strong the PVC canvas was blowing out like a diaphragm."
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3 of 8 Lisa Pacini and Christine Istad

By land and by sea

The artificial sun, which measures almost 10 feet in diameter, traveled by sea as well as land on its way to hang as a temporary installation on the facades of public buildings. Earlier this year, an eight-day voyage on the coastal liner M/S Nordkapp Hurtigruten transported the structure from Tromso and Kirkenes in northern Norway to Bergen on the west coast, where it hung on an outdoor mountain wall by the USF Verftet cultural center.
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4 of 8 Lisa Pacini and Christine Istad

On deck

While in transit, the lucky fake sun got to enjoy spectacular views from the deck of the coastal liner M/S Nordkapp Hurtigruten. "The Sun project lit up the coast and reminded guests, employees, and residents along the coast of the sun's beautiful meaning," said Ragnar Norum, vice president communications for the ship.
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5 of 8 Lisa Pacini and Christine Istad

Pink sun in winter

Sunshine, or lack thereof, can have a dramatic effect on mood and energy levels, studies have shown. While Traveling Sun by artists Lisa Pacini and Christine Istad probably won't cure the depression and listlessness that can come with seasonal affective disorder, it is meant to remind residents of winter-bound towns that the sun still shines, even in the darkness.
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6 of 8 Lisa Pacini and Christine Istad

The sun rises

The Traveling Sun gets mounted on the facade of Tromso Center for Contemporary Art, in the northern Norwegian town of Tromso, which has no sunlight or visible sun from November 22 to January 21.

This month, the sun stopped at the London Design Festival, where light and nature were overarching themes, and in October it will move to The Culture House in Rjukan, a small, shady Norwegian valley town that has relied on sunlight beamed from mirrors to get through the long dark winters.

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7 of 8 Lisa Pacini and Christine Istad

Warming winter hearts

Residents of a dark Norwegian town bask in Traveling Sun's glow. Filled with RGB and white LEDs, the sculpture shifts between warm orange, red, and lilac hues to simulate patterns of the real thing as it rises and sets.
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8 of 8 Lisa Pacini and Christine Istad

Radiant glow

David McCarthy, a professor of art history at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn., calls Traveling Sun a "promethean act of great good will, community-mindedness, and not a little whimsical humor." Visual artists Lisa Pacini and Christine Istad, who created Traveling Sun with a team of designers, call themselves "sunrunners."

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