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October 29, 2011


Richard Powell

It comes as no surprise that “FILM” lacks the essential cinematic quality of watchability. There’s often a gulf between the aspirations of would-be works of art, and what the viewer actually experiences.

There are lots of examples. Last week I saw “Edge of the World”, an installation at the Amos Anderson Museum in Helsinki. Here, with the aid of high technology, one can experience alternative realities.

Except one doesn’t. One straps on the backpack containing a laptop (10kg if it’s an ounce), dons some virtual-reality specs and launches oneself on a darkened labyrinth where one stumbles around, constantly in search of the next door handle. Perhaps a sense of the confusion is given by quoting the Finnish – “epäilemään oman havintokyvyn rajallisuudesta” (to doubt the limitations of one’s own ability to perceive).

Except that one can perceive perfectly well, but for the limitations of the darkness, the virtual-reality headset and specs, and the bloody backpack. Like being on night patrol in Helmand, except that you're in an art gallery in Helsinki. On my emergence, the lads who had briefed me, installed the sodding backpack &c, asked me how I had got on. There was a long silence, while I tried to think of something both truthful and not discouraging. Words failed me. One of them helped me out by saying that many people didn’t get much from it, because they focused on negotiating the maze, rather than appreciating the marvels of virtual reality. Whereupon I bucked up a little, and said the Crazy House at Helsinki funfair - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h88KY2STGnU - had done much more to challenge my perceptions. It's been there since 1961, and at least half the population of Finland must have been through it by now.

So there we are: "art" that’s 50 years behind the leisure industry, requires public subsidy, and offers less in terms of both pleasure and originality. I wish it wasn't that way.

I don't want to put people off the AAM - the pictures on show in the other galleries make the €8 worth paying.

Your blog is truly excellent, by the way.

Richard Powell

That should of course be "havaintokyvyn rajallisuudesta". Apologies.

Mick H

"Art that’s 50 years behind the leisure industry, requires public subsidy, and offers less in terms of both pleasure and originality." Yep, that about sums it up.

And thanks for the kind words.

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