Remember you cannot look at the sun or death for very long

David Hockney


A new digital artwork by David Hockney, one of the world’s most celebrated living artists, will be unveiled across a network of the world’s most iconic outdoor video screens, uniting Times Square, Los Angeles, London, Tokyo, and Seoul this May.

Hockney’s Remember you cannot look at the sun or death for very long brings a digital sunrise to these worldwide locations, offering a powerful symbol of hope and collaboration. As it reaches the screens of Times Square at three minutes to midnight, it transforms: the sun slowly crests a dark horizon, bringing color to the sky and landscape even as it sends shadows across the ground, and then turning brighter and brighter as the sun’s rays spread dramatically across the screen. Created during quarantine on the artist’s iPad in Normandy, France, Remember you cannot look at the sun or death for very long offers the opportunity for a spontaneous encounter with Hockney’s meditation on the arrival of spring.

“What does the world look like? 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.”
— David Hockney, Artist

Remember you cannot look at the sun or death for very long will be shown for three minutes every evening throughout the month of May at the following times and locations:

  • New York: Times Square across 70+ electronic billboards, at 11:57pm EST
  • London: Piccadilly Lights, Europe’s largest screen at 8:21pm (20:21) BST
  • Los Angeles: Pendry West Hollywood at 8:21pm (20:21) PST
  • Seoul: Coex K-POP Square LED screen at 8:21pm (20:21) KST
  • Japan: Yunika Vision, Shinjuku at 09:00am JST
  • Online via the CIRCA.ART website every evening at 8:21pm (20:21) BST

The global collaboration was commissioned and curated by the London-based CIRCA, an innovative new platform showcasing digital art in the public space, and coincides with the release of Hockney’s new book Spring Cannot Be Cancelled and his Royal Academy exhibition The Arrival of Spring, Normandy, 2020, opening May 23, 2021.

In conjunction with this exhibition, a time-limited poster by David Hockney is available for purchase on the CIRCA website until May 31, 2021. Created especially in support of the #CIRCAECONOMY, which arises in response to our post-COVID world, 70% of the profits will be used to commission new culture and help support the creative community with the distribution of cash grants to artists and institutions. For more info, visit the CIRCA online store.

About David Hockney
David Hockney (b. 1937) is an English painter, draftsman, printmaker, stage designer, and photographer. As an important contributor to the pop art movement of the 1960s, he is considered one of the most influential British artists of the 20th century.

In 2009, David Hockney began expanding his practice from a decades-long reliance on analog mediums to that of iPad drawings. What began as drawing with his thumb on an iPhone quickly shifted to drawing with a stylus pen on the newly released iPad: “There was great advantage in this medium because it’s backlit and I could draw in the dark. I didn’t ever have to get out of bed,” said the artist, now with hundreds of paintings, portraits, and still lifes made with the help of the hardware.

Created by artist Josef O’Connor, CIRCA commissions a different artist each month to present new ideas that consider our world circa 2021. Each artist is invited to create a new work for Europe’s largest screen that offers an innovative and exciting way for people to engage with art, both outside and online, in a safe and socially distanced way. Hockney’s work will pause the adverts on London’s Piccadilly Light’s screen at 20:21BST, a new time for 2021.

Visitors to Piccadilly Circus can connect their headphones to WWW.CIRCA.ART and receive a fully immersive audio-visual experience. The website also streams the artwork every evening at 20:21BST and hosts supporting content alongside past archives of CIRCA commissioned work  from artists including Patti Smith, Tony Cokes and Ai Weiwei.

CIRCA has been made possible by Landsec, landlord of Piccadilly Lights, who have kindly donated media space as a helpful boost to the cultural scene in London’s West End.


Photos by Maria Baranova