Written by Karina Hanney Marrero, Contemporary art theorist
The Only Constant is Change is a materialized reflection, a celebratory nod even, towards the systematic thinking which has been Ingunn Fjóla Ingþórsdóttir’s modus operandi throughout the years. Ingunn has developed and worked in alignment with personalized systematic processes; whether technological or existential, mathematical or philosophical, her art is influenced by these diverse networks of knowledge. The current installation combines these systematic processes, jointly forming a new ecologically open system.
Ingunn’s works can often be identified by the application of strong and prominent colors; color codes and systems that are principal to the development of her work. A familiar color palette catches the eye in the exhibition as hues of red, green and yellow on the walls make associations with the colors of common traffic lights. These same colors are also used for navigation systems, in lighthouses, harbours and marinas. The overlap between two or more systems is typical of her work, where she calls attention to man-made signaling systems and their enabling and disabling qualities. Together the conjunction of the stop, pause or go color palette and the deep purple frames positioned on the exhibition floor are intended to have an optical effect on the viewer.
Another system that Ingunn often applies in her work involves number patterns, but both the soundscape and the calculated installment of frames follow a system of numbers and calculations. The soundscape is formed by the continuous sound of humming motors, along with percussion hammers on tremble stings. The motors strike systematically during the day, every first, second, third minute, and so forth. In the beginning of the day the hammers all strike at the same time and assemble every hour after that. The density of the white noise fluctuates according to when the installation is visited during the day. Lastly, the lighting stages a sunrise and sunset within the exhibition space, a machine made solar system if you will.
The presence of the visitor is an important part of Ingunn’s work. The title of her preceding work You are the Input (2019–2022) implies that the visitor’s impact on the installation was sought after, encouraged and enabled. In The Only Constant is Change, on the other hand, the roles of cause and effect are jumbled. The multifaceted installation conforms to its own internal operating system on the one hand and the presence and interactivity of the visitor on the other, disguising the starting point of motion. The visitor could be under the impression of having control, but in reality his impact is limited and even arbitrary.
Despite knowing Ingunn’s points of influence it is difficult to bridge the installation’s reference points solely to navigation systems, number theory or any other one epistemological system for that matter. The objective of her systematic thinking is mainly the execution of the work, its visual components and experiential factors rather than the exact reiteration of certain ideologies. The underlying ideas are merely reference points, informative yet incidental. Understanding of her work is gained partially through comparison where ideological resonance can be found. The installation is mapped out to establish an epistemological connection; between navigation systems and number patterns, between the artist’s interpretation and the visitor’s, between ideas of freedom and the installation’s steering properties.
Ingunn’s installation The Only Constant is Change bears an element of familiarity as the artist revisits and combines components from former works in a new manner constituting a new world; a system open for visitors. The inner laws of this world are unclear, systematic symbolism familiar and optical effects profound. Within the societal context the installation refers to the technical and epistemological systems that dominate, discreetly or obviously, peoples, places and the world at large. On a more existential level it puts into question independence and the influence and agency of the individual. Individual freedom is recognized in western society, but ultimately the only thing we can be certain of is that the only constant is change.