Investigation of self becomes an investigation of space.
The sun shines fiercely in the morning. Without many tall buildings and hardly any variation in elevation the Netherlands is a wash of light that penetrates any window, including the one in my bedroom, which on the ground floor faces only small gardens and more houses. This light coming through my window reminds me of snow, I can almost smell the cold.
I moved countries for the first time when I was two years old. Now at the age of 27, I have lived in four on rotation. Finland, England, the United States, England, the United States, The Netherlands. Because of this, it can be difficult for me to claim where home is, as even in my home country of Finland I am a minority. It surprises many people that this doesn’t bother me, not in the slightest. I have only ever been a foreigner. It doesn’t come as a surprise either that what I fixate on, the thing that exists without borders or language, is light and movement. I can tell you that Oregon has the cleanest air you will ever smell, its wind in march is warm, and I have never seen more gold in the golden hour. I can tell you that Finland has an air of firewood and is a land of extremes; the darkest dark and the lightest light. And England “sweet cattle smell, the hard-fired earth which still held the embers of the day's heat” I’ve never forgotten those words from author Ian McEwen. These are the shortest moments that have impacted me the most. Moments that can never accurately be documented.
My work as a scenographer attempts to grasp that what I have left behind. Not due to loss but instead curiosity. Scenography is an outlet for me to translate my personal, sensorial, memories of the environment around me. I try to give the spectators’ a taste of what that moment was from my perspective; to get close enough to the terrain of that same mood. Here is where the word memory becomes problematic.
Initially, I believed that I was recreating or presenting for the spectator a memory of a time they didn't experience. However, the word memory confuses my documentation process the mood of which is captured eloquently by M. John Harrison. “Memory commits you to the nuance; the fog. If you act on memory you commit yourself on the basis of echoes: unpredictable, faint, fading even as they were generated. No basis on which to inch out across your life, and yet all you have.” This mood being that memories are fleeting, fragmented and flawed as Jerry Koh wrote. However, these memories are mine - I as the observer, the primary spectator, am not asking anyone to recall anything but instead, I am trying to translate the moment into an atmosphere through the sensory input I received. As it is the terrain of the mood I want to share, and not my personal story (although this is the inspiration) The event I experience, the memory, the inspiration will simply be named the OBSERVATION from here on.
Choosing the word observation appropriately shifts the research from an investigation to self to an investigation of space. Because of my position as a maker I have the privilege to draw from personal experience and memory as a method of locating the mood of an observation. When approaching these observations as a scenographer locating mood becomes locating the atmosphere of the space. Space becomes the main character. That really is the core of this research, in investigating space as a collage of elements, as an alignment of objects, light, movement, color, etc. My personal perspective is a method for constructing narratives through the atmosphere. These observations are a composition of time, space, and objects - labeled spatial relations. The light coming through my bedroom is not a coincidence but instead a natural composition of time, the whiteness of the blinds, and the sleep in my eyes. Therefore, the research also contains passages on the physicality and position of the spectator. The observer is also one of these spatial relations.
This research leads to a scenography that frames and filters the performatively of light in our everyday environment.
The photo to the right is the light on my studio desk.
The curiosity In such research that is both personal and analytical, that attempts to create a shareable narrative from an atmosphere and a spatial composition is precisely in these paradoxes, which are addressed through the process of archiving, and translating, to construct Scenography. This process situates itself within the context of a broader scenographic discourse and addresses…
The position of the archive in the artistic process.
Approaching the design ephemeral topics - atmosphere and memory.
Translating (interpreting, and adapting) source material.
The use of the classical technique in design-led performance making.
Multi-modal, multi-dimensional forms of spectatorship.
These are all methods of sharing not only what I experience but also how I experience it. Through archiving and translating I attempt to, as an artist (and researcher) share my fascination with the awesome and mundane (the aesthetics of every day), moments that never exist the same way twice (the liveness of performance), and to prove that sometimes the straightest line to whatever you want to talk about it through something else, through art. It is a retrospective Scenography: a translated account of a past event. A practice that is then implanted.