Art or amusement park? Tremendous public installations that will boggle your mind

Editor’s Note: Amy Bryzgel is a lecturer of Film and Visual Culture at University of Aberdeen. The views expressed in this commentary are solely those of the writer. CNN is showcasing the work of The Conversation, a collaboration between journalists and academics to provide news analysis and commentary. The content is produced solely by The Conversation.

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In its relatively short history, installation art has always been controversial

Many works seem to straddle the line between amusement park attraction than high art

Famous installation artists include Richard Serra, Ai Weiwei and Olafur Eliasson

CNN  — 

Bulgarian artist Christo – who is best known for his massive “wrapping” of buildings and other monuments – unveiled his latest installation, “The Floating Piers.”

If you visited Italy’s Lake Iseo before July 3, you could have experienced what it’s like to walk on water.

On setting foot on the piers, a floating dock system of 220,000 high-density polyethylene cubes which undulate with the waves, visitors will experience the closest approximation to what it’s like to walk on water.

Seem like a gimmick, or even more of an amusement park attraction than high art? Maybe, but installation art, in its relatively short history, has always been controversial.

The use of installation in contemporary art began to develop in the 1970s as a way of democratizing the art experience. Installation enables the viewer to have a more active role in the consumption of the artwork, rather than passively viewing it.

As such, the meaning of the artwork was no longer just about what the artist wanted to express, but about the viewer’s experience of and interaction with it.