Field Studies

Field Studies (Video excerpt)

Field Studies is a two-channel projected video that presents overexposed and blurred footage of people inhabiting a busy public space in Helsinki. Each summer, over four years, I filmed in the square in front of one of Helsinki’s main tourist sites: Tuomiokirkko (the Lutheran Cathedral). At different times of day, and from different vantage points, I documented people as they moved between tour buses and the Cathedral. In Field Studies, the overexposure and soft focus achieved in camera transforms the familiar activity of perambulating tourists into something abstract, beautiful and uncanny. With the erasure and blurring of context, a familiar place appears unfamiliar and spatially confounding, drawing attention to the way we see and perceive space, and to our dependence on context to make meaning and situate ourselves in the world. In this work, I’m also interested in the flattening effect of the camera, and the resulting interplay between surface and space.

Video still

The title, ‘Field Studies’, refers to the activity of tourism; to our experience of pictures; and to the pictorial field, which is defined and activated by stationary and moving bodies. The pictorial field in this work can be read as an analogue for a national territory temporarily inhabited by masses of people from many nations who contribute to its audio-visual colours and textures.

In Field Studies, picture and sound work together to draw attention to our experience and perception of real and depicted space. The atmospheric audio track, made from sounds recorded on site, is intended to evoke three-dimensional space, adding a third dimension to the flat picture. Like the picture, the sound resides between abstraction and realism.

A photographic picture is made with light, seen with light, yet also altered and ultimately erased by light. Field Studies explores this paradox, drawing attention to the photographic document as a mimetic artefact — one that fades, blurs and transforms over time, just like memory.

Video still
Interval, From One To Another, Manchester, UK, 2008

FIELD STUDIES, 2004-2007


300 CM WIDE / 118 IN.

23 MIN 32 S — LOOP