Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Katrín Sigurdardóttir: High Plane V

Cory Oberndorfer
P.S. 1 Installations
Katrín Sigurdardóttir: High Plane V

Coming into Katrín Sigurdardóttir’s installation space, “High Plane V”, the viewer walks into a room occupied only by two handmade wooden ladders leading to holes in the ceiling. The title card not only explains that it is interactive, but it is meant to be viewed by two people at the same time. After journeying to the top of the steep ladders, the viewers must stick their heads through the head-sized hole to experience the world above. The space you are entering is a brightly lit arctic landscape. It is painted white and has sparse areas of carved blue foam resembling some sort of topography. Given the color and sense of barrenness, they appear to be glacial formations in an arctic icescape.
While looking across the space, the viewer can also see the head of the other viewer peaking over the formations, floating in a disconnected way. The physical distance is not far, but any communication seems awkward and out of place. At this point, I remembered that only one-eighth of an iceberg is visible above the surface. Consistent with this measurement, the human body is eight heads tall, and only one-eighth is visible. The viewers have become icebergs and installed themselves into the topography. I really began to think about the distance between the formations, just as the distance between myself and the other viewer. Beneath the surface, we had shared a conversation, but now there was such separation. Were the formations once part of a whole, or are they still connected beneath?
My personal interpretation of Sigurdardóttir’s installation involves the social and ecological effect of technology. I think about how many times I have seen couple on a date, both on the phone talking or texting another person. They are so busy talking with someone far away that the interpersonal interaction is lost, creating a distance. At the same time, it is because of our technological advances that we are speeding the global warming process. Glaciers are falling apart at an astonishing rate. In both examples, we are breaking apart something that once held such power and beauty.

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