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Katie Paterson

emerging contemporary artists: Katie Paterson

Scottish artist Katie Paterson harnesses technology to focus on the natural world while evoking notions of the sublime and ephemeral in highly poetic form.

Her exploration of the possibilities of art is paralleled by the age-old quest to explore physical terrain: remote corners of the earth or even space itself.

One of her best-known works, Langjõkull, Snœfellsjõkull, Solheimajõkull, involved recording the sound emitted by three Icelandic glaciers as they slowly melt, victims of global warming.

The recording was mastered, then cast into frozen records created from the collected meltwater of the glaciers themselves.

Finally, the records were played continually until they, too, melted in turn.

(click to listen - opens in new browser window)

Katie PatersonKatie Paterson - emerging contemporary artists (detail)

The beautifully circular structure of that piece is reprised in another ambitious project, E.M.E Transmitter/Receiver, Disklavier Grand Piano (2007)

E.M.E. is a special form of radio transmission in which signals are sent to the moon, then reflected back to earth.

Irregularities on the moon's surface absorb some of these signals, redefining the structure of the transmission and therefore allowing it to be used to map lunar terrain.

For Paterson's work, however, a coded translation of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata is beamed to the moon, then received back as a score 're-written' by the planet's craggy surface.

In the exhibition space, a Disklavier grand piano (which uses data to play notes without any human operator) performs the new, 'moon¬altered' score.

Sophisticated in scope, yet hauntingly direct and appealing in their concerns, Paterson's works employ unexpected artistry to enable "the viewer to imagine distant places by withholding the visual".

March 2009

 

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