Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Some Finch Love

One of Spencer Finch’s installations that both references literature and employs technological devices is titled Two Hours, Two Minutes, Two Seconds (Wind at Walden Pond, March 12, 2007).

This work consists of a semicircular arrangement of 44 computer controlled box fans, stacked four high. For around two hours, the fans periodically create a gentle, intermittent breeze from varying angles and speeds. This pattern was discerned by Finch’s measurements conducted with a digital anemometer and weathervane whilst standing on the wooded shore of Walden Pond.

The symbolic significance of this work lies in it’s obvious reference to another New-England based luminary, writer and poet Henry-David Thoreau. Specifically the book entitled Walden; or Life In The Woods first published in 1854, which was written whilst Thoreau lived in a cabin located in the woodlands just off of the Walden Pond shore, a residence he kept for two years, two months and two days.

Therefore, the piece is designed in order to allow the viewer’s own perception of what Finch and presumable Thoreau once felt whilst standing on the shoreline. This experience becomes much more poignant on the attainment of the knowledge that Walden was written as Thoreau removed himself from society (to an extent) and returned to nature, in order to develop a greater understanding of the society in which he existed.The text and the project concerned were inspired by the transcendentalist philosophy which refers to the concept of transcending normalcy and experiencing the Sublime through nature and thereby achieving a connection with it.

Therefore, it can be argued that Two Hours is an attempt made by the artist to remind the viewer of this essential connection, one that is lost in a modern world that is often so forcefully removed from nature. Yet, the need to employ such an overly cumbersome apparatus in order to facilitate the depiction of such ephemeral phenomena as, air currents, seems absurd. But this implicit absurdity is precisely how Finch’s work functions- it encourages it’s audience to appreciate and reinvestigate natural phenomena, on a technologically comprehensive level- a level that is seemingly relative to contemporary culture.

Moreover this relativity is incurred by the fact that, on a daily basis, at least those of us residing in urban environments communicate and interact with technology much more regularly than we do with nature.

Finch attempts to recreate his fluid perceptions of the world in which we co-exist, a modern world that enables our day to day experiences to be wrought with comprehensive and advancing technologies, including that of communication.

In Finch’s work we see not only, something that we probably wouldn’t have had the time or interest to bother noticing- a trace of the sublime present within the mediocrity of the everyday, but it is his selection of materials and scientific methods that pose, to an extent, an almost humorous parody of the now ‘normal’ complications and complexities inherent to our continuously technologically evolving modernity – complexities that are here regarded as removing us even further from the truth and therefore, even further from ourselves.

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