La hora del norte
When was nine years old.. I wired a loudspeaker and heard fits very beautiful sound and I understood that I was listening to electricity, to power. I really liked that.”
Intermedia artist Finnbogi Petursson is a product of an exciting period in Icelandic art. As a student in the Faculty of Experimental Art at Iceland’s College of Arts and Crafts (Myndlista- og handiðaskóli Islands) at the beginning of the eighties, he came into contact with the lyrical conceptualism of artists such as Magnus Pálsson and the Gudmundson brothers, manifested partly in the concretization of immaterial phenomena: ideas, feelings, concepts. Pálsson, in particular, who had been casting sounds in particular, must have fascinated someone who had been tinkering with radios from an early age.
Finnbogi Petursson was also involved in the wave of Performance Art that swept through the Icelandic art community in the late seventies, giving him an enduring taste for informal dramatic events”. Furthermore, when Reykjavik Punk met Performance, in around 1981-1982, Petursson was there. The aftershocks of that encounter may have contributed to the directness, the unfussy, what-you-see-is-what-you-see attitude displayed H Petursson’s sound installations to the present day. Finally, since leaving art school, Petursson has worked as chef sound technician for Iceland’s first commercial TV channel, Channel two, an occupation that accounts for his practical attitude to the creative process.
Essentially, Petursson regards himself as a sculptor working with sounds, in order to materialize thorn in some form or fashion in a given space, using the most economic means. In one of his earliest sound installations, Ástand (Situation), 1985, Petursson transformed the interior of a Dutch church into a giant acoustic instrument by means of 25 cassette players and 500 chairs, which could be moved about to change the character of the sound. In 1989, Petursson created the first of his sound drawings, through a programmer and I2 small speakers ranged in regular series on the wail. The “drawings” in question were formed when the sound jumped from one speaker to the other creating more than 1700 different “configurations”. In 1993, Petursson let us listen to the force of gravity by setting off a rhythmical movement of pendulums over small microphones on the ground. As the pendulums swung close to the microphones, a curious high-frequency sigh, the sound of gravity, was emitted.
Thus Petursson has consistently and gleefully broken down the barriers between sound and non-sound, sound and mass, sound and vision, supplying proof of the Romantic notion that music unheard really is sweeter.
- Aðalsteinn Ingólfsson, 1995