Within the Grasp of the Technologically Clamp

By Sigrid Stenerud Steien.


Unstable Monuments 1 (2017) Sculpture 20 × 50 × 20 cm Screw clamp, fragment of gneiss, document of Sveinung Oddvar Berge’s private collection, documents of Arild Våge Berge’s private collection.

The theme of the Anthropocene as a current topic within the art scene is clearly present at The National Annual Autumn Exhibition of 2018. There are several of the selected artworks that are presented at Kunstnernes Hus that touches upon the subjects of nature and technology, climate change and consumerism. Arild Våge Berge’s sculpture Unstable Monuments 1 (2017) (ill.1) is one of these works.


Unstable Monuments 1 consist of a map, The Question Concerning Technology by Martin Heidegger and a gneiss rock, forced together by a clamp screw. Berge’s piece is intriguing in its quiet appearance, making the audience come closer to the sculpture that is placed on the floor. The fragile paper of the map upon the hard rock makes the work vulnerable, while the screw clamp holds it all together. The gneiss rock is placed in between the map and the book.


The exhibited artwork is a part of Berge’s larger project The Gravity of a Lake Focused into One Point, which explores the power station Tussa Kraftverk located by Hjørundfjorden in Ørsta [1]. Berge’s grandfather, Svein Oddvar Berge, was leading the development of the power station in the 60’s. The artworks consist of different objects from Tussa Kraftverk and private materials of the artist and his grandfather [2]. All of the works include different kinds of fragments found on the site of the power station, including gneiss rocks, concrete and salt crystals, and dust from the drilling of the stones and concrete [3]. The different fragments are forced together with different kinds of documents and papers by clamp screws and steel rods. There is a presence of tension in the artwork; there is a fine line before the pressure from the technologically instruments will break down the whole structure. The industrial elements point to Tussa Kraftverk as an industrial site. It also works as the presence of Grandfather Svein Oddvar the engineer, holding the different elements together in a tight grip.

As a human built construction, Tussa Kraftverk made to exploit the renewable energy in the steep terrain, and is placed between the lake Tyssavatnet and the fjord, making use of the natural waterfall between the two. There are also tunnels from nearby waters into the power station, which doubles the production [4]. Under the development of the power station in the 60s, eleven people died [5].

The German philosopher Martin Heidegger wrote about how technology has a controlling power over humans. Instead of seeing the world and its nature as it is, he meant that human beings look upon nature and people with a technologically view. In this sense, nature becomes a material that is waiting to be developed, instead of being understood or valued in its natural form [6]. With the technology, we think that we can control the nature. This technologically perspective on the world, Heidegger argued, makes a distance between human beings and nature. To free oneself of this technologically grip, Heidegger argues, is to identify the dangers that come with technology, instead of rejecting it completely [7].


In Berge’s work, the technology is present through the industrial elements, holding a literary grip around the other elements, as understood through Heidegger’s philosophy. The art piece is a memory sculpture, a monument, of Berge’s grandfather. It may also be a monument for the ones that got lost under the development of the power station in the 60’s, or a monument of the power station itself. It is an unstable construction of nature, knowledge and personal objects held together by industrial technology. While the construction seems robust at first glance, vulnerability is present in the artwork when inspecting the piece; without the firm hold of the clamp it will all fall apart.


Notes


[1] Tussa, ”Tussa kraftverk”.

[2] Statens kunstutstilling, Høstutstillingen, ”Arild Våge Berge”.

[3] Arild Våge Berge, ”The Gravity of a Lake Focused Into One Point”.

[4] Tussa.

[5] Statens kunstutstilling, Høstutstillingen.

[6] Mark Blitz, «Understanding Heidegger on technology», 63.

[7] Ibid.


References

Arild Våge Berge. “The Gravity of a Lake Focused Into One Point”. Visited 18.09.18.

https://www.arildberge.com/the-gravity-of-a-lake/


Blitz, Mark. «Understanding Heidegger on Technology», The New Atlantis, Winter 2014:

63-80. https://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/understanding-heidegger-on-technology.


Statens kunstutstilling, Høstutstillingen. ”Arild Våge Berge”. Visited 18.09.18.

https://www.hostutstillingen.no/2018/arild-vage-berge/


Tussa. ”Tussa kraftverk”. Visited 18.09.18.

https://www.tussa.no/om-oss/kraftproduksjon/kraftverk/tussa-kraftverk


OSLO FORM LAB 2018