F2F: New Media Art from Finland
Curated by Marko Tandefelt in collaboration with Bryn Jayes
As the datasphere becomes increasingly dense, many fear the loss of face-to-face communication and, along with it, much of what we think of as distinctively human. The exhibition F2F: New Media Art from Finland includes nine wired, participatory installations that explore the insistence of the human within the realm of the machine and the influence of the human-machine interface on our social selves.
Heidi Tikka's Mother, Child invites the exhibition visitor to participate in a simulated experience of cradling, feeding and bonding with an infant. The projected image of the baby responds to both the movements of the person engaging directly with the work and to the people in the surrounding space. Through its computer-controlled behaviour, the video projection of the baby gains a life-like aspect that both simulates intimacy and extends the arena of interaction beyond a single "user."
Multiple users and the social behaviours that emerge through participation in technologically mediated situations are a central concern of all the works in this multi-site exhibition. Teijo Pellinen's Aquarium, for instance, involves the audience in an interactive television show about the lives of two sleepless singles – Ari and Eira – who can’t make up their minds about what to do. Using a telephone to connect with the characters, the audience can help them make decisions and influence the development of their story.
States of mind such as hysteria and boredom and the behaviour they precipitate are the focus of Hame by Laura Beloff and Maex Decker. The audience explores these psychological conditions by wearing one of three jackets (the forward-jacket, rewind-jacket and repeat-jacket) to interact with stereographic video projections.
hit2Morrow by Kristian Simolin also involves the audience in an experiment in imagining the future. Using a bow-and-arrow set, the participant aims and shoots at the sensor target to activate computer animation forecasts such as "Tomorrow everyone will drown" or "Tomorrow the chosen one will arrive."
The Battle over Indifferent Minds uses beat-up superhero toys to stage a motorized version of a historic battle-scene painting. A flatbed scanner is used to capture an image of the viewer's face as he or she responds to the battle scene. This image is then mixed with additional images and replayed a few moments later on the screen. The piece expresses artist Hanna Haaslahti's concern about the pleasure and detachment that result from witnessing spectacles of violence.
A less sombre but similarly critical irony animates Prix Möbius Finland winner Tuomo Tammenpää's hybrid project Need. A marketing campaign, a website and a trade-show booth introduce the audience to a new line of indispensable and handsomely packaged Need products. Brand-building, the social rituals of consumption and the ambivalence underlying our roles as happy consumers are the issues the project asks the audience to consider.
Juha Huuskonen's Mirror++ involves a custom-made piece of software that analyzes the visitor's movement to generate real-time audio and 3D graphics. At the same time, the visitor's image is captured and mixed into the projected image stream, effectively turning the physical into the virtual.
The name of Marita Liulia is perhaps the most easily recognizable in this group of Finnish artists. Famous for her popular (and pioneering) 1996 CD-ROM Ambitious Bitch, Liulia here presents its sequel, SOB. An exploration of masculinity, the project takes users into the apartment of psychoanalyst Jack L. Froid, where they become involved in a game-like exploration of ideas about modern man.
More information can be found on the F2F website.
F2F is presented by the Art Gallery of Ontario, InterAccess Electronic Media Arts Centre and Design Exchange as part of TransTech Media Biennale.
The F2F production was coordinated by Juulia Kauste. The exhibition has been presented in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. The exhibition design is by Ilkka Suppanen, the artistic director of the acclaimed Snowcrash design group.
F2F has been organized by the Finnish Foundation for the Visual Arts in collaboration with the Embassy of Finland in Washington DC. The Toronto exhibition has been realized in cooperation with the Embassy of Finland in Ottawa. It has been made possible by the generous support of Sonera, Unisys, and William and Gloria Jackson. Additional support has been provided by the Ministry of Education in Finland, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Finland, the Arts Council of Finland, DPS Inc. and Apple Finland.