Finnbogi Pétursson (b. 1959) studied in Iceland and the Netherlands and first exhibited in 1980 with the artist-run gallery Suðurgata 7, Iceland’s most important venue for avant-garde and conceptual art at the time.
From the outset, he has combined sound and visual presentation in installations that have no clear precedent in the visual arts but cross the boundaries into music, performance, and uncharted territories where he extends the possibilities of technology. He transforms sound waves into light, reflected off pools of water, and creates mobile sculptures that use feedback to produce an endlessly renewing auditory environment. Representing Iceland at the Venice Biennale, he transformed the pavilion into a huge resonance organ pipe where the audience could move about to experience the dissonant tritone known in medieval times as Diabolus in musica, the devil expressed in music. In the 1980s he created installations using cassette recorders and has since exploited every new technological development, but always in conjunction with natural or architectural environments.
In the Icelandic highlands, for example, he constructed a concrete tunnel that serves as a flute, played by the chilling northern wind. His pieces range from the scale of architecture to minute, almost ethereal, sound-producing objects, and he has also released recordings of compositions, often collaborating with musicians and composers. All his work aims to extend our experience of sound and make us more aware of its presence in our environment, including its influence on our other sensory faculties.