LAURI ASTALAIn Apropos of Seeing
The work of Lauri Astala (b. 1958) encompasses sculpture, video and computer-assisted video installation, focusing on our concepts and experiences of space and the cultural structures conditioning them. In his forthcoming exhibition, Astala will be presenting his interactive video installation Apropos of Seeing and his video series Rome dèrive I-III.
In Apropos of Seeing, Astala is seeking to "dismantle the traditional dichotomy between the film and the viewer, which reduces the viewer into the role of an outsider, a mere observer. Astala says he wants to "give the viewer a sense of participation, to examine the viewer´s reality of here and now in relation to the other time and place traditionally depicted in art. In Apropos of Seeing the viewer soon realises that they are, in fact, an integral part of the film. "In addition to its exploration of our perceptions of space, the virtual and the real, of presence and absence, the film also examines the gaze, the act of seeing and the act of encountering a work of art. It questions what the viewer is watching: the film, themselves, their own act of viewing…? What space do they inhabit: the gallery space, the space recorded by the camera, the virtual/ fictional space conjured by the film…?"
In Rome dèrive I-III, Astala has captured the city of Rome from a number of different perspectives. He says that the material for parts I and II came about as a result of a series of serendipitous, drifting encounters (dériver). In Rome dèrive I, Astala charts the urban space and our perception of it, showing us car headlights sweeping across walls, a shadow travelling across the street as morning turns into midday, a radar circling across a wide open space. In Rome dèrive II, the city´s skyline can be seen as a set against which the interplay of light and shadow is captured, as clouds drift across the city and day turns into night. Indeed, Astala suggests that in his work he presents Rome, "not as the static, "eternal" city it is often seen as, but as a place of arrivals and departures, an endless flow of moments and states of being".
In Rome dèrive III, Astala again turns his attentions to a phenomenon he terms the "imagification of space: the way in which images (films, photographs, TV) determine our experience of a given space or place." For this piece, Astala has shot a scene from La Dolce Vita, copying the locations and camera angles and movement of the original but using no actors. The film´s soundtrack brings together the original dialogue with the contemporary, nightly sounds captured by Astala on location. The piece serves as a reminder of how culture shapes our perceptions of space, the space here being one of the world´s most photographed locations, the Trevi fountain.