Stein Rønning's photography show at Trondhjems Kunstforening
represents a (sort of) new departure for the artist who is best
known for his sculptures. The photographs are in fact sculptural
in a variety of ways. What they depict are arrangements of cuboid
wooden forms, presented straight to camera against neutral backgrounds.
They speak of space, speak to our perception of space, speak of
architectural form, speak of histories of the representation of
three dimensional space and form. But like much of Stein Rønning's
earlier work, they also have an impenetrable quality, they resist
any attempt to make a reductive reading. At the same time, they
are not "open" in the sense that they could be interpreted
in any way imaginable by any imagined viewer. They are, remarkably,
open and closed at one and the same time. Certain of the images
carry echoes of still life, especially Morandi; but they are not
really still lives, they are arrangements of three dimensional
elements that may or may not be sculptural/architectural, real
or virtual. In his own catalogue text for the show, Rønning
speaks of a correspondence between the hand in one place and the
eye in another. There is a correspondence and a distance. I know
that a hand has arranged the objects in these photographs and
that an eye has observed, monitored, selected, then given the
hand a message to rearrange or simply to capture, to register.
From my eye to the photograph, or rather, to what appears to lie
behind the photograph, seems to be a huge distance, one which
the hand can not do anything with. The tactility of the objects
I perceive through the image I regard is a tactility denied, removed,
codified. More than a decade ago I wrote an essay fabulating about
the coming of virtual sculpture. At the time I assumed it would
be digital, interactive, virtual in a narrow technological sense,
but I was wrong. It is here, in these photographs. They may be
digital, or analog, or both, but fundamentally they are photographs.
And they are probably also sculptures
Welsh Jan -08.