Critics’ Picks

Grönlund-Nisunen, Ultrasound Installation, 1996, parabolic mirrors, stainless-steel stands, Geiger counter, control unit, amplifier, speakers, LEDs, 66 x 6 1/2 x 6 1/2'. Installation view, Z33 House for Contemporary Art, Hasselt, Belgium.

Grönlund-Nisunen, Ultrasound Installation, 1996, parabolic mirrors, stainless-steel stands, Geiger counter, control unit, amplifier, speakers, LEDs, 66 x 6 1/2 x 6 1/2'. Installation view, Z33 House for Contemporary Art, Hasselt, Belgium.

Helsinki

Grönlund-Nisunen

Helsingin Taidehalli / Kunsthalle Helsinki
Nervanderinkatu 3
January 28–March 5, 2017

“Grey Area,” the title of the first-ever retrospective for the Finnish artist duo Tommi Grönlund and Petteri Nisunen, known as Grönlund-Nisunen, refers to the way their site-specific works occupy a space somewhere between visual art, natural sciences, architecture, and electronic music. According to Paul Klee, “art does not reproduce the visible but makes visible.” Grönlund-Nisunen seem to have taken his words literally, as they investigate various physical forces and natural phenomena that are beyond the reach of our senses but which still impact our daily existence. If everything is going smoothly, we don’t ask questions about phenomena such as gravity, electricity, magnetism, or lurking radiation. Using simple but effective technology, including a variety of sensors, transformers, and amplifiers, the artists make the unseen audible and turn the intangible into light, heat, or movement. Though it may sound dry, this exhibition shows that their works plumb surprisingly deep and powerful depths, from sheer joy and wonder to unease and even fear, as in the sine wave sound piece Ultrasound Installation, 1996, that changes its pitch in response to impulses from a radiation-measuring Geiger counter.

Grönlund-Nisunen’s works are more like instruments than sculptures. They are purely pragmatic machines in the modernist sense, in which function dictates form. These shiny metal constructions are beautiful for what they do, rather than how they look.