Magnetic memories

Time and humanity could be the heading of Sigurður Guðjónsson‘s exhibi- tion in Berg Contemporary which opened on September 2nd 2016. Heavy black curtains block out the street noise when you enter the enclosed world of the art space where three new video works - AV Machine, Tape, and Well - are synchronized in order for natural and technical noises to con- verge into an aggressive presence in the thick darkness that envelops the audience.

For this particular exhibition, Sigurður leads us further into his research on the aesthetics of these mediums, their sounds, colours and shape, which he connects to the metaphor of water and its transfor- mation into electricity. With this current exhibition, he has moved on from the visual narrative which defined many of his older works, instead focusing on a specific distillation of aesthetic elements – an interplay of medium, matter and sound – which before could be detected in the works Connection (2012) and Recorder (2010).

Sigurður’s video works are staged
in abandoned spots and he has often highlighted things that are
as changeable as water (Balance (2013)), and as fleeting as a ma- gician’s soap bubble in his work Insight (2011). Here, the artist
seeks inspiration from a deserted industrial area, worn-out machines, humming, rust, and water, all of which elicits a strong olfactory re- sponse. In this manner he engages all the senses.

Artists have long been fascinated with the beauty of the machine. The profound and passionate relation - ship between man and machine has never been as strong as it is now. Sigurður’s dystopian visual world rhymes with man’s turmoil over whether he should identify with and love the machine uncondition- ally, or cultivate his humanity and those emotions that separate him from the machine. The repeating spirals, mesmerizing electronic sounds and falling drops of water evoke a dreamlike, meditative state, which could be paralleled with-in science fiction and the visual language of cinema, an ambience which suggests either Deckard’s sorrowful response in Blade Runner or the desperation of the Russian director Tarkovsky in trying to cap- ture the impermanence of memory. Sigurður makes his sound mem- ories visual, while revealing that perhaps the emotional connection between medium and man, tech- nology and humanity, is the real meaning of his works.

Sigurður continues to spin a thread which has been underlying in his artistic expression and connects to the root of youth in a visual rela- tionship between past and present. The works are a good fit for the Berg gallery because they call for wide walls, high definition, and stillness in order for the audience to enjoy them. Each unit, colour, form, note, has been sharpened to a concise point. Sound and vision merge in such a riveting way that the audience forgets about the meticulous technical work behind such a complex exhibition and is returned to the cave, fascinated by the shadows of past mediums.

Sigurður’s artistry belongs among the progressive video artists, especially those who work with
the specific traits of the medium, examine it in an aesthetic manner and approach it like archaeologists who read the physical world and its discontinued mediums as meta- phors about the passage of time and the possibility, or impossibility, of technology to store memories. Sigurður manages, in a percipient and profound manner, to give form to his artistry in order to express his (and our) desire to preserve the intimacy and mystique of youth. Concurrently, his sound world cre- ates an open and meditative space for the audience, and freedom from the interpretation which has been presented here.

Æsa Sigurjónsdóttir 2017