Focus on Finnish Media Art @ NEMAF, Seoul, Aug 4–12

A focus on Finnish media art at the 16th Seoul International New Media Festival (NEMAF) kicks off the new exchange programme between Finland, Korea and Japan. The programme is a fruit of AV-arkki’s extensive collaboration with HIAP (Helsinki International Artist Programme) and Frame Contemporary Art Finland, with the support of the Ministry of Education and Culture. More details about the programme will be announced in August.

Held from August 4–12, Seoul International New Media Festival was launched by an alternative visual culture group iGong in 2000.

Curated by AV-arkki, The Finnish focus at NEMAF 2016 is a showcase of Finnish media art within a timespan of 50 years. Two screenings offer an insight into the central traditions and tendencies of the artists’ moving image in Finland. In addition, AV-arkki’s programme coordinator, film scholar and critic Tytti Rantanen, M.A., gives a lecture titled “From Electronics to Ecocriticism. The Diversity of the Finnish Media Art from 1960s to Our Days”. Rantanen will also participate in the jury of the festival.

The first screening, ”Erkki Kurenniemi & Disciples”, pays homage to Erkki Kurenniemi (b. 1941), a pioneer of Finnish electronic music who also documented the advent of information technology in the midst of the psychedelic 60s. His short films Computer Music (1964) and The Punched Tape of Life (1964) can be seen as an ode for the new sensuality between man and machine, whereas Flora & Fauna (1965) is an intensively sensual study on flowers and insects.

Mika Taanila (b. 1965) has played a prominent role in introducing Kurenniemi’s art to new generations. The same fascination with the relationship between technology and society can be seen in Taanila’s own works too. Pidän tästä hiljaisuudesta (I Like This Silence, 1989) takes a line from Jörn Donner’s 1970 film Anna as a starting point of its audiovisual collage. In Optical Sound (2005), the score music is made using only the sound of dot matrix printers.

Pekka Sassi’s (b. 1969) body of work varies from dystopian horror films to small comic impressions of the everyday. At the same time, a notable part of his films continue the tradition of the abstract film and optical art, as can be seen in Line Fill (2003) and A Friend (2016), which will have its world premiere at NEMAF.

Liisa Lounila’s (b. 1976) short films study group dynamics in social situations. In Popcorn (2001) and Play>> (2003), she moves around seemingly frozen subjects with her homemade pinhole camera.

Juha van Ingen’s (b. 1963) recent short film ONE (2015) is an audiovisual tribute to the 1960s sci-fi fever. Our smartphones may help us to capture the mysteries around us. Finally, Kurenniemi’s fetishist urge to record even the embarrassing and mundane details of his personal life find a current equivalent in Jan Ijäs’s Sweet Mov(i)e (2010). The hypnotic short film consists of found footage with people simulating sex.

The second screening, ”21st Century Issues in Finnish Media Art”, displays three substantial themes in the contemporary works by the artists from AV-arkki.

Erkka Nissinen’s and Pilvi Takala’s works represent the performative approach to the absurdities of modern society. Nissinen’s The Social Construction of Reality (2005) is a sociology lecture gone bizarre. Takala’s interventions reveal the disconcerting hidden rules of different institutions. In Real Snow White (2009) she tries to enter Disneyworld dressed up as a Snow White – to no avail.

Salla Tykkä’s and Jan Ijäs’s films discuss the concept of equality. Tykkä’s Giant (2014) and Ijäs’s Two Islands (2013) extend their geographic sphere from Romania to the United States. What kind of examination and training must an individual go through in order to be accepted by the prevailing system? Tykkä’s Lasso (2000) is a micronarrative about an impossible encounter.

The last films of the screening reach beyond the anthropocene with a twist of black humour. Maarit Suomi-Väänänen’s Up and About Again (2009) and Anssi Kasitonni’s Masa (2009) challenge the human point of view by studying what it is like to be a frozen car or a guinea pig.

Seoul International New Media Festival, Republic of Korea, August 4–12, 2016

More information: NEMAF

AV-arkki has promoted and distributed Finnish media art since 1989. AV-arkki’s promotional efforts have made the artists’ participation in this event possible.