In You are the Input, Ingunn Fjóla explores the tension between order and disorder in a playful manner. The installation is first of all painterly, in the sense that a system of patterns can be painterly. Within this system is an immersive experience in which the visitor operates the shifting scene as they move about the space, interacting with subtle ques embedded in the layout. The installation is meant to be disturbed, but the manner of this disruption is displayed in such a way that the polarity between acts of disruption and composition are brought into question.

Ingunn Fjóla’s previous works have mainly been composed of painting and installation. Using different materials arranged in unsuspecting ways that challenge the viewer’s aesthetic and visual perception of an exhibition space, she merges the preconceived information received by the eye with a conceptualism that speaks to the physicality of the body. The body of the viewer takes part in an abstract narrative created by a variety of surfaces and angles. The painted surfaces in her oeuvre play many roles – at times they are a partition wall or cat-walk and at other times a sign, stage, or screen.

In You are the Input, the visitor can move materials in the exhibition around so that the system can break, or form, depending on how you conceive of the continuum of order and disorder. Everything exists within a range of movement established by the input of the visitor. At the end of the day, the exhibition is reset to the original pattern so that the variability always begins from the same point zero the next day and so the installation continues to exist in a constant flux between order and disorder.

One of the movable materials are painted frames that can be set into rotation on a center axis, reiterating the notion of the frame as being something the viewer has a choice in the extent of their engagement. As well, the way in which frames represent a certain ruling function in aesthetic experience is brought up for questioning. The frame, instead of being a ruling factor, becomes part of the shifting perception of the space.

The second movable element are multiple red balls, which stark presence vacillate between the 2-dimensionality of a painting and the 3-dimensionality of an installation. The red balls could symbolize a button of some kind in which moving them from one location to another sets a system into motion that follows a sequence unbeknownst to the visitor. The round red balls could also be all the uses of circular spheres ever, not to mention, the demarcation on a map in which the red dot symbolizes where you are.

In the midst of these moveable factors, the paintings on the walls in monochrome pastel become the constant, the unmoving factor around which all else moves, including the observer. In a similar manner, the artist finds painting to be the constant in her process, the base from which all other experiments are derived.

The composition changes as the visitor moves things around in a variety of infinite perspectives. In this way, You are the Input is painterly, but in a way that eschews any sense of fragility associated with painting. Interactivity and sometimes direct participation have become a more prominent factor in Ingunn Fjóla’s recent work. For her, the perception of the senses is part of this participation which she has no direct control over.

Through diagrammatic and interactive elements, the play of interaction converges with aesthetics in a way that brings together several propositions such as the contingency of phenomena with other phenomena. Within the scale of an exhibition, the aesthetic engagement of the body in scale to the system at play within the installation provides a place from which to question the systems operating at a larger scale in the world. Now, it is impossible to imagine a world that is not mediated by an interactive system. The repetition of resetting the exhibition emphasizes the play between chaos and order and the systems created to negotiate them. The resetting of the exhibition also reiterates the conception of art as a symbiotic system between art object and observer.

Like early 20th century experimental art, the tendency toward the investigation of putting art into motion, as well as the conceptualization of invoking interaction with the viewer are present. The mutable aspect of time in Ingunn Fjóla’s work conjoins the past, present, and future into a dissolution of sequential time, bringing about instead a simultaneity of experience in which the visitor takes part in the synchronicity of creating continuous related change.

In You are the Input there is a temporal sensation connected to the past and future, as though the history of painting were greeting the future of painting and in this meeting becoming reassembled through the viewer’s senses. The presence of nowness is created out of the ability of her work to play with the viewer, recreating itself as it is presented to the viewer through interactivity and spatial integration. Ingunn Fjóla’s work extends the field of painting into an open narrative system in which the work is animated by the viewer and the space. You are the input, an actor setting the possibilities of the installation into motion.

Erin Honeycutt