Threat, Is, Safety

Safety / June 2021

For me the most interesting artwork in Vallisaari was a work by Timo Viialainen, a work that is not a part of the Helsinki Biennial. Actually, the work no longer officially exists, it had to be dismantled to make room for the biennial.

Timo’s work consists of three words: Threat, Is, Safety. Timo carved these words into three stones on the bridge connecting Vallisaari and Kuninkaansaari. The rocks were arranged in a line reaching out to the sea. The audience had to use binoculars to properly see the last word, Safety.

The work comments on the many warning signs that can be found all around the Vallisaari island. The island is mostly a protected nature reserve, and it is also a former military training ground. For these reasons one should not enter the forest but observe it from a safe distance, from the wide roads that circulate the island. This is an unusual experience – in most of other nature trails in Helsinki (Nuuksio, Uutela, Vartiosaari, etc) one is actually walking inside the forest, smelling the aromas and feeling the rocks, roots and soil under one’s feet. The current heat wave amplifies the difference between these two experiences – in Vallisaari walking is exhausting, since one can rarely find cover from the sunshine. The wide empty tracks carved into the forest make Vallisaari a great place for taking photos for social media – for looking at nature instead of experiencing nature.

With his work Timo also wants to point out that an agenda to eliminate all threats is a futile one. A completely safe state is an artificial, isolated condition that cannot be sustained. For one to be safe in a long run one has to be ‘out there’ – involved, engaged, exposed, vulnerable. Threat, Is, Safety. Safety, Is, Threat.

Continue reading

Interferenze – Naturalis Electronica

INTERFERENZE 2006 · San Martino Valle Caudina, Italy, 3-5 August 2006

The theme of Interferenze 2006 was ‘Naturalis Electronica’, the encounter of nature and electronic art. I was invited to curate the interactive/software art section which eventually featured following artists/projects: Casey Reas (Process 6, 7, 8), LeCielEstBleu, Ralf Schreiber, Marianne Decoster-Taivalkoski (Aquatic), An Earful of Italy (Dinah Bird & Jean-Philippe Renoult with Kate Sieper) and IMPROVe (Zeenath Hasan & Richard Widerberg). The festival took place on the mountains next to San Martino Valle Caudina, a small village close to Naples.

The music programme featured many Pixelache alumni artists and other familiar faces: Keiko Uenishi, Emi Maeda, LIA, Sine Wave Orchestra, Sasu Ripatti, AGF, etc.

Nervous Networks / Simplest Electronic Organisms workshop by Ralf Schreiber. The workshop participants are invited to build their own solar sound module, a simple analogue circuit attached to a piezo speaker and a small solar panel. The module uses an ordinary integrated circuit chip which generates sound patterns which resemble sounds of birds or insects. The sounds can be adjusted with alligator clips and different resistance and condenser values. The weak energetic circuit concept permits this experimental work, which is generally forbidden in electronic circuits. The quality and intensity of the sound depends on the amount of light that touches the solar panel’s surface. Every created sound module is special and unique, it’s impossible to build two exactly similar solar modules. The solar sound module starts emitting sounds in the morning when the first beams of the sun appear and will stop at night. Prior know-how on electronics is not required for taking part in the workshop.

IMPROVe by Zeenath Hasan & Richard Widerberg explores the role of the mobile phone user as a creator or her/his own content. It attempts to define the mobile device as a tool for awareness of one’s environment by making the user conscious of their immediate sonic surroundings. By exploring the role of the mobile phone as a medium of sonic content creation and exchange, we propose the understanding or the music making mobile device as a medium of empowerment.

An Earful of Italy: an Acoustic Ecology Project for Valle Caudina by Dinah Bird & Jean-Philippe Renault and Kate Sieper takes a global look at the ideas behind acoustic ecology through a presentation of radio works by a variety of different authors. The artists would like to record local inhabitants talking about their favourite sound, or sonic memory, and what this means to them. They plan to accompany the participants and record existing San Martino Valle Caudina sounds and encourage people to listen and develop a deeper appreciation of sound in our everyday lives with a view to creating a permanent sonic archive in the area.

Aquatic by Marianne Decoster-Taivalkoski invites the audience to participate in a multisensorial experience. It is a three-dimensional interactive water soundscape that can be explored through bodily movements. The soundscape can fluctuate between various emotional states: soft and quiet waters, refreshing streaming waters and tempest waters.

Process 6, 7, 8 by Casey Reas – three algorithmic artworks from the Process series. These constantly changing artworks appear to be very complex, but are in fact are based on very simple mathematical rules. The same dynamic can be found in nature – intricate patterns and behaviours can emerge from the interaction of myriads of very simple organisms.


Solar sound modules meet the Sine Wave Orchestra
Keiko Uenishi

More photos in Flickr

VJ workshop for the Kogi tribe

I was invited to Colombia by Vanessa Gocksch / Intermundos to give a VJ workshop in connection with the Salón Internacional del Autor Audiovisual film festival in Barranquilla in August 2005. Afterwards me and Vanessa were contacted by the Kogi tribe, with a request to teach them VJing.

Kogis are one of the more than 100 native peoples of Colombia. The core Kogi community lives high up in the Sierra Nevada mountains and has been able to preserve their language, customs and beliefs. The National Geographic magazine had donated them a video camera and a computer, with the idea that they could use these to make documentaries about their life themselves. However, since the Kogis don’t have a written language, they did not feel comfortable with the concept of a documentary – a fixed, static document. They rather wanted to learn the skills to present the video material in form of a live video performance.

The Kogis believe that their task is to ’sustain the equilibrium of the Universe’. They have several sacred locations on their lands where their spiritual leaders can connect to the Earth and channel wisdom to the tribe. The Kogis wish that they could use the video material to send out a warning to the ‘Little brothers’, to inform us that the way we are currently treating the environment is dangerous for the future of this planet. They also hope that educating people about their way of life will help them to maintain the control over their lands. Video is also seen as an efficient tool for reporting any potential misuse of their lands.