S t e i n . R ø n n i n g



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

Jeremy Welsh Jan -08.