Accompanying Text for the exhibition Should the Ocean Run Dry
online only at Black Diamond Turner Valley,
Curated by Francesca Szuszkiewicz and Elise Beneteau

Each traveler prays Let me be far from any
physician, every port has its name for the sea,
-W.H. Auden, Journey to Iceland

Between the beginning and the end is the vastness of the ocean. Drawing lines of the coasts, we understand nations, languages, histories, and lives, separated by this ever-changing, placeless and timeless expanse. Should the ocean run dry, what would we do?

Helgi Kristinsson and Tegan Moore are two artists whose practices engage with the sense of infinity and the question of boundaries as daily concerns. Both artists use almost scientific methods of observation to create site-specific works and studies, either exhibited in place, or documented with photographs and shown elsewhere. This site-specificity extends to the way that they treat the gallery experience, using natural light or outdoor air as functional components of the work. However, it also questions what it is to be site-specific; what line separates the outside from the inside.

Tegan Moore's gallery installations are never only about the material objects inside. Incorporating natural light filtered in through stacks of corrugated plastic or sheets of coloured cellophane, the gallery environment is one of outside-inside, and the shadows cast by her artificially-lit models and arrangements become significant as they change ever so slightly.

With a studio practice as much outside as inside, Moore observes and documents elements of natural landscapes, bringing back images and memories of the forms of cleaving rocks, the colours of evening skies, the textures of almost-still waters. Their man-made counterparts are found inside the studio in a collection of unlikely materials: plastic protective sleeves, coloured styrofoam sheets, expandable plastic netting. Made to be disposable fillers for industrial products, or the simple carriers of office documents, these are transformed in the artist's studio to represent morning light, fault lines, icebergs. Sheets of plastic imitate the translucence and opacity of thick ice; at once shining and dull, blue or green, non-colours to see-through.

Lately, this imitation of nature is being questioned by Moore. Rather than simple translation of natural phenomena into cultural object, she describes her working process as "share-pair-brainstorming": finding the qualities of man-made materials within natural ones, as much as the other way around.

Local Features is a series of animated GIFs made from photographic documentation of models and materials placed in outdoor environments, subject to wind, waves, or maybe only the artist's hand, folding and bending the once-static material.

A strange array of specimens float motionlessly on moving water. A ridge of mountains thrusts and collapses. A light disappears and reappears.

Looped, they float and collapse and appear forever.

The repetition of the jerky rhythms of animated GIFs are most often used to comic effect, rendering slapstick even the most banal of gestures simply by speeding them up and repeating a punch line again and again. The ambiguity of Moore's works make them oddly sophisticated contributions to this ubiquitous web-based art form: possessing no punch line, the objects and their environments advance and retreat, giving rise to each other, unending.

In their strange timelessness these works are most like the vast wilderness, both inside and outside the frame.

And it is the frame that is questioned in Helgi Kristinsson's recent work Space 602.

In the past Kristinsson has installed work both outside and inside gallery spaces, exploring site-specificity by using sound and imagery from faraway and disparate places. A collector of sounds and images, his works invite viewers to look and listen to the outside world inside, and to contemplate the construction of a seashore heard in the city.

With a practice that constantly explores the relationship between the outside and the inside of a given place or object, Kristinsson's process questions the ability to represent anything totally by emphasizing arbitrary or constrained decision-making. When asked for this project to develop a work for the internet, his process was to pare down his considerations to the screen and the speakers common to all computers: a rectangle and a sound. As a result, the end product of Space 602 is almost banal, and belies the extravagance of the undertaking; the artist's wish to take this white frame, and stretch it from the middle.

Space 602 comprises two parts: a video documenting the gesture and sound of the artist's hand drawing pencil lines on paper, and a text explaining the unseen process of the video. The word "space," spoken in a single language, into a single room, by a single person, was recorded, analyzed as sound waves, and represented by the artist's pencil drawing of the lines of the sound waves.

The artist's presence is asserted, through the documented gesture of drawing and the described process of making. Perhaps it is the anonymity of the internet and the simplicity of its interface, that seems to elicit a more intimate engagement with the viewer, than in Kristinsson's previous works. One work in particular, described as a video work installed above eye-level in the street outside a gallery, was apparently not even noticed by some passersby. Maybe it is his desire not to be fully described or analyzed by others, but more properly felt and thought about, that leaves Space 602, and many of his other works, open-ended.

A hand appears and disappears. Lines are drawn. At first, a bright spot in the middle reads as a hole in the page, creating another sense of space entirely. Repeated viewings fail to demystify the space that the work describes.

There is only the space of the work, a rectangle of light and shadow, and a sound from somewhere.