Focus: Jukka Hautamäki’s EMPYREAN

Empyrean refers to a site of unapproachable brilliance. For the ancients it was a place of pure fire – a sphere located in the highest part of heaven. In Jukka Hautamäki‘s incarnation Empyrean prevails in a humbler, but no less curious realm.

 Hautamäki_Empyrean detail 1

Here, light peridically shifts and flickers from behind the veils of some translucent agglomeration, but the source of that luminescence remains indiscernible. As it glow magnifies, diminishes and changes position, it illuminates a substance whose appearance varies. At times it seemed gossamer-like. Then it could also appear to be quite hard.

When hard, the look of this material recalls frozen liquid, crystals or some type of solidified resin. It made me wonder about this filter’s location and its scale, the nature of the light source and whether that source might be hot or cold.

The gradual shifts in the light’s brightness and position convey a magical presence, but not knowing if the material is vaporous or solid also produces a palpable incertitude. Would it be possible, a testing sweep of the hand would provide some information. Though this might result in the hand being injured upon impact, the action could cause the blue-grey cloud to be dispersed.

But this view – a projected image – forms only half of the installation. The source of the projection rests on the floor just across the room. There sits a crumpled sheet of plastic, which must have once wrapped a piece of furniture or equipment. Some lights have been inserted beneath this volume, cables run across the floor and there is a video comera linked to a projector.

The funny thing is that there’s absolutely nothing remarkable about this assemblage. Isolated, it seems almost nonsensical. The crumpled mass of plastic possesses a haphazard quality that fits right in with the dilapidated character of Galleria Huuto‘s warehouse location. Mangled paper labels still adorn its surface. It may have been salvaged from some forgotten corner of the building. Most importantly, words such as otherworldly or dreamlike are not conjured up by its appearance.

Hautamäki_Empyrean overall view

And yet, though I could compare the projected image with the source from which it emanated, I found it difficult to make correlations between the two. For me the perspective delivered by the video camera completely altered the nature of the plastic’s materiality, primarily because it presented a scale and intimacy my eyes couldn’t match. The inherent sense of asymmetry in the work was impressive. It left me feeling stranded between two extremes. But most importantly, it confirmed how mysterious, and how wondrous, the most commonplace materials can be.

EMPYREAN was exhibited at Galleria Huuto 25 January – 9 February 2014.

In addition to his visual art practice Jukka Hautamäki works with DIY electronics, produces sound art and combines sound art with live performances.

All images courtesy of the artist.

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