Without sleep (the rhythm of a movement is different)

15.4.2009 Anna Nykyri

Video installation, projection (loop 7 min), projection dimensios variable, mono sound

My first installation (I can’t get no sleep and the fish is dead)

The course in which I wanted to learn what a video installation is, started with a task named “Ping Pong”. The students just took cameras and quickly filmed something that showed a reflection between subject, viewer and artist. Somehow I ended up filming a fish in our schools dirty aquarium (probably because it was so near and we didn’t have much time), thinking why do people really need pets. Isn’t it stupid to put a fish in a glass box and watch it? Still, if you treat your pet well, it might give you happiness. A continuous circle of reflecting.

I took the camera and sneaked as near the fish as I could. After a few seconds of staring at each other (and filming the fish like it was a beautiful movie star), it slowly, “step by step”, backed out of the picture. The image of an empty aquarium. Suddenly I remembered my own aquarium as a child – the constant guilt of not cleaning it as often as needed, frustration when the fishes weren’t playful pets after all and then finally a huge sadness over the rather short lifetime of a fish.

I decided that in my installation there will be a woman with a plastic bag, and inside the bag there will be a dead fish. A woman standing, mentally saying farewell to the fish. Playing with film-noir style, the image is in black and white to create the right mood and happens in the harbour, near water. Lights of the boats leave their reflections in the water. It is night-time and the others are sleeping.

Insomnia & movements of the animals in the forest

Everyone who has seen an elk running in the forest knows that there is no movement like that in a city. Everyone who has ever suffered insomnia knows that it kind of slows down the motion around you and leaves you standing in the middle of the whole fuss, observing it all. As Sandman wasn’t my best friend in those days and to proceed with my theme of the fishes, I decided to film them (fishes) in SeaLife at Linnanmäki. After filming seahorses for a while, I was sure there was something so beautiful in their movement that anyone who runs from place to place without a chance of being forced to stop and observe it, would not see it. In my installation, I wanted everyone to see it.

A girl in the colorful sea

When thinking black and white thoughts about the water and boats, I remembered a picture taken by my father of me as a little girl. I’m lying in a sea of plastic balls on a boat between Sweden and Finland and staring straight at the camera, looking mysteriously meditative. The image was black and white, but remembering the joy of trying to swim in the colourful sea of plastic balls, I decided to reference it in my installation, just to remind those who may have forgotten that colours really exist. The plastic balls ended up at the top and bottom of my projection, as well as on the floor under it.

Shortly about the sound

Breathing heavily (my voice), as if asleep. Distant sounds of water, seahorses and glockenspiel to make you feel sleepy. Something small, beautiful and relaxing to create the right atmosphere in the space around the black and white moving image and the colorful plastic balls.

Reflecting each others’ works

Water became one of the main elements of our exhibition. In our course (leading to an exhibition) we tried as much as possible to reflect each others’ works-in-progress. For me, this was a fascinating point of view for making a piece of art – somehow it helped me forget the pressure of trying to be perfect or to make “a perfect installation”. However, now when the exhibition is ready, I feel (and no, I don’t always feel like this) my piece is just a little taste of something, my first insecure movement towards something successful, because I’ve taken it, but without a clear view at all, yet. Somehow I also ended up reflecting themes in my work that have been used quite a lot in video installations in general. Why? Because I’m not sure at all, but being willing to know, I will continue experimenting, reflecting and thinking: what is a video installation, really?