From August 9 until September 25 four of my works will be exhibited in a group exhibition at The Päätalo Center in Taivalkoski, Finland. The other two artists are Jürgen Umlauff (DE) and Jussi Valtakari (FI). My works are based on questions about landscape and problematize ideas about nature and mediation. Here’s the statement:
Close to Nature / Lähellä Luontoa
What does it mean to be close to nature? This question is examined in this video work based on 9 short clips. The first clip of a woody landscape was recorded outside of Taivalkoski, Koillismaa, Finland using an Intenso Viddy, a cheap Video Messenger.
The clip, 30 seconds in duration, of the landscape was transferred from the Viddy to a laptop. When played on the laptop the screen was filmed with the Viddy, creating the second clip and another iteration of the primary filmed sequence. The process was repeated until there were 9 clips representing the landscape. Each of the nine iterations brings the viewer closer to the scenery, while the image and sound also become more distorted and noisy.
The Viddy is marketed as a fridge magnet with possibilities to record and play messages. With it’s 1,8” screen, simple microphone and camera it has poor audio-visual qualities. In Close to Nature the limited quality of the Viddy is used to evoke the character of the work. Each iteration of the initial clip induces a closer image, but also more abstraction. By using the side effects of a cheap consumer electronic device, and no video editing of the clips, serendipitous ready-made dimensions and glitch aesthetics are high lighted. In contrast to genres of landscape art, and representations of nature where the sublime and feelings of wonder and awe are valued, Close to Nature instead stress an appreciation of imperfection, chance, and the juxtaposition of a media dominated consumer society with experiences of nature.
Out of Hand
Further aspects of the video work Close to Nature are called forth in a series of birch wood slices featuring minimalist paintings.
The paintings, made in watercolour are based on impressions derived from viewing the 9th part of the series. By using no brush, only fingers when painting, and by using the interplay between water colour, gesso primer and the water absorbing wood, the irregularities and glitches characterizing the uses of technology in Close to Nature are remediated.
These colour stained pieces of wood introduce questions on materiality and the interplay between controlled design and serendipitous irregularity. The three pieces become another dimension of representation, this time in another medium, raising further questions about mediation and transmutation.
The work is based on audio field recordings from the peak of Iso Syöte, a wood covered fell North West of Taivalkoski. The sounds of an approaching thunderstorm were captured and are played from speakers enclosed in a rectangular wooden box.
Thunderstorms experienced in mountain regions were a common theme of romantic representations of sublime nature. Here the sound of that kind of scenery is captured in a double sense, evoking other feelings than wonder and awe.
Ready-made. In this piece something highly inconspicuous and mundane is used to evoke associations to identity formation and the transformations of the Koillismaa-region.