Sound is a temporal structure. It inhabits the realm of silence, and indeed defines
silence with its absence. In silence we are denied any measure of time and are
instead faced with a formlessness that for all practical purposes is akin to eternity.
The sinusoidal wave, the most basic and elementary form of sound, breaks up this
silent void. Its main characteristic is its pitch: a perfectly defined piece of time, which
through its multiplication and proliferation invades silence and structures it in a
regular temporal grid. But this Cartesian backdrop still lacks an important component:
Our pieces of time are free to align themselves as they see fit, with no way for us to
pinpoint a past, present or future.
Imposing a fixed reference leads us to another characteristic of sound: its phase.
Choosing a phase is an act of free will, but once chosen, it solidifies our elementary
temporal structure, as all our little pieces of time must now submit themselves to our
whims. But how do we impose our will on this ethereal substance? How can we
capture it from its natural element, pin it down and mould it?
Finnbogi Petursson uses a confined trap made of water and light. Confinement is a
spatial term. It defines limits and boundaries between where one substance ends and
another one starts. When the sinusoids traverse the aquatic medium they engage it,
attempting to transcribe their rhythm on its flexible surface. But the water is not as
free flowing as its beguiler. Indeed it is limited and confined by its vessel and must
submit to its carcan. Thus a phase gets selected and the water will accommodate
itself into a spatial pattern being the marriage of the vessel that confines it and the
sound that tries to free it. Light, also a sinusoidal wave, is then used to further project
the fruit of this union back into the immateriality of lights and shadows that we can
contemplate, like glimpses of perfect shapes in Plato's cave.
In this way Petursson has captured a spatio-temporal building block which he can
use to creatively elaborate a sculpture that both lives in space and time, is both
confined and pervasive, is static yet always moving. We live in a world filled with a
cacophony of sounds and a jumble of spaces, both confined and open. The sum total
of the interaction between these two defines our everyday experience. In his work
Petursson has singled out and distilled this interaction to its purest form, allowing us
to reflect on this basic component of our existence.
- Kjartan Pierre Emilsson, 2003