Sigurður Guðjónsson at BERG Contemporary

From September 2nd to October 22nd Sigurður Guðjónsson will exhibit his first solo exhibition at BERG Contemporary. The former glass factory’s high ceilings and sonorous exhibition space is well suited to the artist’s compositions. In the darkened space, the natural light from outside plays a role in the visitor’s adjustment to the contrasting luminosity. Emerging from daylight, it takes a few minutes for the senses to adjust – an element that brings the visitor into awareness of the body’s sensual attunement to its surroundings. Once this sensory assortment has taken place, the audiovisual presence of three video projections pulls the sensory world of the exhibition into position.

AV Machine’s visual presence arrives from a not-so-distant past as a manufacturer’s conundrum – a compact unit (audiocassette player and television screen combined) of convenience that is not so convenient for the human senses. This ‘dead’ media apparatus flickers with a familiar glow on its miniscule screen, the pale blue light of which is self-generated, correlating to the fuzzy, crackling closeness of its search for a signal. The distant deep bass notes filling other corners of the space amplify the closeness of the unit’s audiovisual presence. Throughout the exhibition combined layers both mechanical and organic are wrapped within the same curious process of moist electronic decay. Layers of differing sounds are combined in their meeting place within the body of the visitor. Each audiovisual element carries itself into the next with the visitor’s body as host.

Installation view

The flickering closeness of AV Machine lies opposite Tape, allowing neither to be experienced in a vacuum. Tape takes the viewer right to the well-worn threshold of the audiocassette tape’s world where one half of the tape mechanically rotates, while the other half lies still and coiled. In magnified closeness, the intimacy is paired with a droning bass that echoes the movement of the plastic ribbons of data as they slough off one layer at a time. The tape exists as much in one’s memory as in reality, as a nostalgic piece of time, recorded yet living. In Tape the materiality of the audiocassette performs without pause for the information it carries. We do not hear the recorded data of the tapes but a simulation of their rotation throughout time- the very circulatory movement of their mechanism rolling throughout time but for what event?

Stepping into the presence of the next component of the exhibition takes one to a new source. The audiovisual composition of Well reaches a similar place of depth in the body where wet pulsations are timed with the sea. The encompassing bass notes in Well with its watery environment takes the viewer into the earth where elements of media originate as rare earth materials. As daylight filters through the opening of the well, its depths locate both endings and beginnings in an oracle-like manner. Both the flickering monitor in AV Machine and the pulsations in the well’s opening carry their own source of light reflection; water becomes signal, rippling through time, appearing on whatever medium is available.

Installation view

Sound and vision are composed in the enclosed space not in competition but in the bodily recognition of new ways of sensual reconnaissance. These sensual layers delve into spaces within the body, some that are tightly coiled like one half of the audiocassette tape, while others move with the rhythm of time. Organic elements of sunlight and water intermix with the mechanical droning of electronic signal flicker and tape rotation, their coexistence made possible in the sculptural world of the audiovisual. The exhibition’s atmosphere of sublime dread and Romantic materialism carries suite with the artist’s oeuvre of surface tension yielding deep undercurrents. Sigurður takes you to the source of sensual information, one magnetic layer of mechanical rotation at a time.

Erin Honeycutt