Critics’ Picks

Charles Sandison, Tavastehus kronomagasines, 2011, computers, projectors, dimensions variable. Installation view.


Charles Sandison

Hameenlinna Art Museum
Viipurintie 2
September 30 - February 5

Charles Sandison’s latest exhibition contains only one work, but it is a big one: Tavastehus kronomagasines, 2011, fills both floors of the museum, yet the viewer experiences it as a single piece, not a thing in two parts. The Scottish-born, Finland-based artist is known for large, continually changing text collages governed by computer programs and projected onto the walls, floors, and even ceilings of museums and galleries. The individual words in his previous pieces often relate to human behavior; together they form images or attempts at full sentences. At the core of these artificial intelligence–operated works is the idea of language as a living, self-perpetuating organism.

The starting point for Tavastehus kronomagasines is the Hämeenlinna Art Museum’s history as a granary, and Sandison has now exchanged his floating words for showers of fast-moving pixels that resemble grain or seeds. These animations are mixed with recurring, looped information pertaining to grain, from hieroglyphs to real-time data on rye, wheat, and barley futures. The organisms of language have now been overshadowed by the organisms of economics, and the result is both joyful and ceremonious.

While it is fun to learn from a wall text that the computing power driving the whole installation is equivalent to that which governs a small town’s traffic-light system, the work does not celebrate technology. Rather, it is an impressive, complex metaphor for life and evolution, inspiring its viewers to contemplate how atoms create worlds as seeds give rise to life.