PURHONEN, Ari, 1953
Artist Biography

Spine (Column), 2001
stainless steel
260.0 cm x 66.0 cm x 66.0 cm


Spine (Column) belongs to a series of sculptures which take the form of a column and embody an optical effect produced by a natural phenomenon of light.

It is a development from earlier works that explored the nature of perception, light and geometry. It stems most directly from the Cell series of works of the early 1990s. The 'cell' was conceived both as a unit of raw energy and an icon of confinement. These works were modelled on the form of a cube, suggesting absence of movement and permanence rather than change. The cube was depicted as a basic building block of rational calculation or construction, the cell as the fundamental unit of organic matter. These geometrical sculptures were seen as archetypical forms held in stasis, frozen modules, dormant seeds, full of potential energy.

A seed or a cell does not divide or produce growth without an incitement or irritation from the environment.

In the Spine (Column) sculpture the module or cell is rotated about its vertical axis, thus distorting the geometry of the module, and then is replicated vertically, creating a column. The rotation causes the vertical elements to slant and introduces an optical interference pattern within the sculpture.

The sculpture suggests vertebrae joined together, forming the structure of a spinal column. The column resembles the phototropic twisting of a stem or a trunk of a tree in response to light. The optical energy embodied within the column alludes to invisible processes such as photosynthesis and evaporation that drive organic growth. This energy is akin to the hypothetical ether, a massless medium that scientists once believed filled space.

Ari Purhonen, October 2001

The artist acknowledges support from the University of Sydney.

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Spine (Column), PURHONEN, Ari, 2001
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Spine (Column), PURHONEN, Ari, 2001