Meta.Morf Retrospektiv: Erik Olofsen – Public Figures [Videoinstallasjon]

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Public Figures

Videoinstallasjon 2007

Perrongen på en t-banestasjon blir forvandlet til en scene som forener det offentlige rom med det svært private. Det offentlige rom, som vi gjerne opplever som hektisk, livlig og støyende, stilner; plutselig kan vi observere minimale bevegelser og intime øyeblikk vi normalt ikke legger merke til.

Ved hjelp av et høyhastighetskamera og bruken av sakte film dokumenterer Olofsen opplevelsen av en perrong fra et ankommende tog: portretter, relasjoner, reaksjoner. Videoverket gir oss et ekstremt nært inntrykk av personene på perrongen uten at de er klare over det. Hverdagslivet er blitt til et teaterstykke, og de ventende til skuespillere.

Hva er det som frembringer denne sceniske følelsen? Er det sammenstøtet av bevegelse og stillstand? Kameraet som er i bevegelse filmer de tilsynelatende frosne karakterene. Ved nærmere ettersyn oppdager vi allikevel minimale bevegelser; karakterene er på samme tid både skulpturer og bevegelige figurer. Den ekspanderte tidslinjen ser ut til å kreere en annerledes romlig opplevelse, en slags tredimensjonalitet som normalt ikke forbindes med lineær video. Figurene ser ut til å dele opp rommet på en måte som gir det dybde. 

Dokumentasjon og fiksjon kan vanskelig separeres i dette verket. Videoen viser et fragment av en helt vanlig scene fra dagliglivet, men den bærer i seg en surrealistisk undertone skapt blant annet gjennom den stiliserte fremstillingen. Perrongen blir til en teaterscene og de ventende til ufrivillige skuespillere. Det er imidlertid den mediale iscenesettingen i seg selv som gir oss denne svært private innsikten. Kanskje det er kunnskapen om nettopp dette som er grunnen til at Public Figures skaper en slik forstyrrende opplevelse? 

– Polina Stroganova for Kasseler Documentarfilm und Videofest – 2007

Public Figures ble vist i 2010 under aller første Meta.Morf med tema-tittelen New.Brave.World! Kuratorer: Alex Adriaansens & Angelica Schmidt / Co-kurator Espen Gangvik. 

Public Figures er filmet fra togsettets forreste kupé med 2000 bilder pr. sekund (Phantom Vision høyhastighetskamera). 


Public Figures @ Meta.Morf 2010 / Trondheim Kunstmuseum – Gråmølna / Erik Olofsen, 2007


Video installation 2007

The platform of a subway station is turned into a stage uniting public and private matters. The public space, which we perceive as a hectic, vibrant and noisy, is quiesced and suddenly we can perceive minimal gestures and intimate moments, which are normally not visible to the human eye.

By means of a high speed camera and the use of slow motion Olofsen document the impression of a subway station from an arriving train: portrayals, relations, reactions. It enables us to receive a very intimate impression of which the protagonists are unaware. Every day life becomes a theater play, and those who are waiting become actors.

What is it that arouses this feeling of theatricality? Maybe it is the clash of movement and standstill. The moving camera films the more or less frozen characters. By taking a closer look we realize minimal movements, though: The figures are sculptures and they aren’t. Maybe it is the extended time which also creates a different spatial perception, a kind of three-dimensionality, which is normally not part of the medium video. It seems like the figures intersect the room and thereby give it some sort of depth.

Documentation and fiction can hardly be separated in this work. On the one hand we are aware of the fact that this scenario is a fragment of every day life. Still, it holds a surreal moment, which is created through medial representation and alienation. The platform becomes a stage and those waiting become involuntary actors. However, it is the medial apparatus which allows us this kind of private insight. Maybe the knowledge about that is the reason why this work develops an eerie moment? 

– Polina Stroganova for Kasseler Documentarfilm und Videofest – 2007

Public Figures was shown at the very first Meta.Morf in 2010 that had the theme title New.Brave.World!. Curators: Alex Adriaansens & Angelica Schmidt / Co-curator Espen Gangvik. 

Public Figures is shot from the first compartment of a subway train with a Phantom Vision high speed camera at 2000 frames per second.


Meta.Morf Retrospektiv | Retrospective

Trondheim internasjonale biennale for kunst og teknologi – Meta.Morf – ble initiert av TEKS i 2007 og den første biennalen så sitt lys i 2010. Meta.Morf har siden da presentert mer enn 250 internasjonale kunstnere og forskere i samarbeide med et stort antall av Trondheims kunst-, scene-, forsknings- og utdanningsinstitusjoner.

Meta.Morf Retrospektiv er en utstillingsserie som med ujevne mellomrom vil presentere tidligere biennale-produksjoner som en del av vårt løpende formidlingsprogram for teknobasert kunst. Meta.Morf har blant annet som mål å formidle kunstpraksis som nyttiggjør seg og/ eller diskuterer nye teknologier og vitenskapelige gjennombrudd.


The Trondheim international biennale for art & technology – Meta.Morf – was initiated by TEKS in 2007 and the first biennale was eventually arranged in 2010. Meta.Morf has since then presented more than 250 international artists and researchers in collaboration with a severe number of Trondheim’s arts, performance and research facilities.

The Meta.Morf Retrospective exhibition series will occasionally present past biennale productions as part of our ongoing dissemination program for technology based art. Meta.Morf has amongst other an ambition of conveying art practises that utilise and/ or discuss new technologies and scientific breakthroughs.

Erik Olofsen

Artistic statement.

I am interested in the mechanisms of cause and effect, control and being controlled. I try to expose the extent to which our surroundings influence our behavior by creating a balance between abstraction and familiarity; reality is dislocated but restored to unity in the same gesture, keeping the world at arms length, yet simultaneously bringing it closer.

The core of my work forms spatial constructions of composition and deconstruction; I decompose existing architecture and small-scale models and subsequently reassemble them in a new arrangement., often combined with other media such as video, sculpture, and photography. The constructions that are created in this process correspond with the surrounding physical space in an alternating and manipulative way: they merge the two-dimensional with three dimensional, so that the border between space and installation at times is difficult to discern. In achieving distinct spatial installations, I try to question the tension ratio of artificiality and reality and draw the observer and his perception into this investigation.

Different elements and disciplines are often combined as fragments that work together and reinforce each other. They form points of reference that lead to an overview, creating a total setup of an associative character. Almost literally, different perspectives are piled up and intertwine in each other in a folded up space; spaces emerge within other spaces. This folding-up and unfolding would offer the possibility to express some sort of synchronicity, as a way of visualizing various matters in the same space. Though some facades give an impression of stability, it seems that in this coming to an overview deliberate deceptions have been brought into action. What we find important or hold to be true can be futile or fragile from another point of view.

Meaning is generated through an apprehension of structural patterns, tensions and balances rather than a recording of constituent elements. Reflecting the experiences generated in the installations, whether it is in works that involve industrial robots, cityscapes, surveillance cameras or moving couches, the viewer becomes an assembler, an active agent in these investigations.

Erik Olofsen, 2010


Foto: Stephan Ziehen

(NL, 1970) Erik Olofsen’s works usually integrate different media such as sculpture, architectural elements, video, photographs and sound. Whether it is in works that involve industrial robots, cityscapes, high-speed filming or moving couches, mental processes and physical experiences are being transferred towards or evoked within the viewer.

Olofsen is the winner of the prestigious Dutch Prix de Rome with the installation “Remotely Here”, The Spanish international prize Vidalife with the work “Divine methods / Hidden motives” and The Golden Cube of the Kassel Documentary Film and Video Festival with the installation “Public Figures”. 

Residences include the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam, the Chinese European Art Centre in Xiamen, IASPIS in Stockholm.

His works has been exhibited internationally at i.e. the GEM Museum in Den Haag, Palais des Beaux Arts in Brussels, Tirana Biennial, ARoS kunstmuseum in Aarhus, KulturBahnhof in Kassel, Malmö Konsthal, Palais de Tokyo in Paris and at the Trondheim international biennale for art and technology – Meta.Morf @ Trondheim Kunstmuseum.

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