Jem Finer–“Still”

One of the current exhibits at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park is “Still” a video installation created by Jem Finer, a founder member of the Pogues who originally trained as a computer scientist and who has now made a name for himself as a multimedia artist. A previous work Longplayer, is an “algorithmic musical composition” that began playing at midnight on 31 December 1999 and and will continue to play without repetition until the last moment of 2999, when it will begin again.*

I used to think that I didn’t like video installations. I  think that this was because the first ones I’d seen I either didn’t understand or didn’t really like.  However, following a visit to the Nam June Paik exhibition at Tate Liverpool last year and the woks by Jesper Just shown at the Baltic Gateshead (also last year) I’ve started to take more interest in them. So when, during our visit to the YSP last Sunday, we discovered that they were showing Still in the old chapel we decided to take a look.

Commissioned by Stour Valley Arts in 2011, Still  consists of a large number of individual photographs taken automatically from the same location in a forest in Kent by a solar powered camera over a two year period. The photographs show an identical view and the video cuts from one photograph to another revealing the changes. However the photographs are not shown sequentially but selected at random. This means that one photograph can be followed by another from a completely different time of the year. It can jump from summer to winter, autumn or spring. It isn’t a sharp edit. One photograph merges into the next so the changes are gradually revealed. People animals and objects appear and disappear seeming to dissolve in and out of the scene. It’s a continuous stream without a distinct start or end.


According to Jem Finer’s blog the work :

composed in real time by a generative sequencing system, is continually finding new and different paths through the days, weeks and months.

The large object that looks like a large old fashioned gramophone player that features in Still is Score for a hole in the ground another work by Jem Finer created in 2006 and which uses water and gravity to create music,

We sat transfixed for about 30 minutes and could have stayed watching it longer, but wanted to see some of the other sculptures in the park so left somewhat reluctantly. We’ll try to go back to take another look before it closes on 7th May 2012.

There’s a short documentary on the work on Vimeo.


* Longplayer can be heard at the Lighthouse in Trinity Buoy Wharf, London, and at several public listening posts around the world. There’s also a live stream on the Internet.


3 thoughts on “Jem Finer–“Still”

  1. Hmmmm. I enjoyed that. I can relate to your comment that you did not used to be into video art. I tend to avoid it in galleries and move on, but I liked Still. I will make sure that I watch it when we go to YSP.

    • Hope you get chance to see it. The video embedded in the post only gives a taste. It’s much more impressive in real life, projected as a large image inside the Bretton Chapel.

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