My Master of Arts thesis for Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture is called Uneasy Ride. It consists of an artistic part, a cinematic installation, and a written part called Uneasy Ride: Chasing Freedom, Facing Devastation, presented in the form of a 80-page book. Completed in September 2018.
A batch of thesis books fresh from the press.
This thesis examines the essential themes of the road movie film genre and their relation to certain contemporary issues and my own artistic practice. The point of view is that of a visual artist who works with moving image and sound and who reveres sovereignty and equality, suffers from climate anxiety and drives an automobile. In addition to the written part, the thesis consists of an artistic production which is a video installation.
The research material consists of a selection of films, beginning with classic American road movies. The thesis also examines a number of films that are not road movies per se, but they serve as a continuation of the themes, illustrating a vision of a near future that is undesirable but at worst inevitable. Additionally the text examines selected experimental films that are either relevant to the subject matter or influential to the author’s working methods and aesthetic practices. The literary research material includes books and articles that elaborate on the themes brought forth in the films from various points of view.
The research begins with various phenomena influential to the emergence of the road movie genre, from the developments in cinema and technology to the counterculture movements of the 1960s. The themes selected for further study are the pursuit of freedom, the rebellion, and the transformation of the passenger enabled by the journey. The themes are entwined with the Western notions of freedom and the human condition, the long history of consciousness expansion, and environmental disasters.
Additionally the text describes the two-channel video installation also called Uneasy Ride. The artistic process at the crossroads of image, sound and the selected themes is discussed. Most of the material for the work was filmed on the road. The filming trips and the writing overlapped and influenced each other, in particular the experiences of being on the road sustained the written part.
The written part of the thesis uses the films as a metaphor of the human condition and the current global problems surrounding us. The artistic part attempts to communicate on an emotional level and by audiovisual means something unattainable by words alone.
There were no photos or recordings from the event. I only had some memories. Like the ceiling above stage constantly rumbling to low end frequencies. People in the audience sitting on the floor, eyes closed. Someone telling me it sounded like Op:l Bastards; a compliment although very misguided.
And then I had the source tapes (and minidiscs) I had prepared for the gig.
According to some research we unconsciously modify our memories and possibly create false memories over time. Now, I’ve deliberately made a false memory of sorts. Here’s a live recording from October 2018, made using those source tapes prepared 20 years ago.
I’m sharing this to whoever has some 40+ minutes to focus on sound alone – preferably on the floor, with eyes closed. Rumbling ceiling optional.
20 years ago today, I released my debut solo album. I called it Grey Bloom [xero vol zero] and put it out on 12″ vinyl on my own small underground label Some Place Else. Always thinking bigger than my resources allow, it was supposed to be followed shortly by another LP with a related theme and tracks recorded at the same period. The album’s subtitle was supposed to refer to that, though in retrospect it seems like a planned one-off… “vol zero” ? Anyways, plans changed, other things came up and the follow-up got buried and forgotten.
Grey Bloom was a rather bleak and minimal album recorded with a very lo-fi setup that included a 486 PC computer (for some basic sound generation), a delay pedal, a bass guitar, some cheap keyboard, fm radio etc, recorded with a 4-tracker and mixed down to a minidisc (which I had just acquired to ‘upgrade’ from C-cassette masters).
The pinnacle of the album’s success for me happened when Jukka Mikkola played it on his radio show Avaruusromua, the legendary Finnish show for experimental and ambient music through which I had learned about the likes of Tangerine Dream, Brian Eno and more, back in the early 1990’s. It was absolutely the greatest honour that could have happened to the album, I was so happy about that!
This summer I’ve looked back and spent a few days with my old tape archive, going through master tapes and original 4-track recordings, to refresh my memory on past deeds a bit, and to transfer everything to digital. There are plenty of recordings that never ended up on a release, and to my surprise I found some of them a lot more interesting than what I chose to release back then. It’s all lo-fi sound collage type experiments recorded on a 4-track, so there’s a particular charm of tape hiss and other artifacts involved. Selected bits may come out in some form in the future, those interested should stay tuned on this frequency.
I still agree with David Lynch on what he says on the video above, about watching movies on an iPhone. That was a decade ago, but the point remains. It’s impossible to achieve the kind of immersion that you get on a large screen in a dark movie theater, no matter how pristine your phone’s or tablet’s retina screen is.
For similar reasons, I’ve been hesitant to share online some of my videos and cinematic works, since many of them are installations designed for specific site and setting. Oneline, one cannot achieve the same experience as on large projections, special screens and darkened spaces.
Now I’ve partly changed my mind. I still think one should experience the works in the environment and setting meant for them, but if that’s not possible, online streaming is better than nothing at all.
That said, my video works from 2011-2017 (most of them, at least) can now be viewed on Vimeo. They’re also found on my website where there’s more info, stills, photos and related stuff.
So, feel free to watch wherever, whenever and however you prefer. In general: the larger the screen, the louder the sound, the darker the room, the fewer the people and other distractions between you and the work, the better.
2017 was another busy year, quite work-focused (as usual). After some contemplation, some accomplishments will follow. Scroll down for obscure notes called “plans for 2018″…
TH€€€F, a sound project that had been incubated for some time, surfaced with a release on PARAFERAL Sound in February. Also a special TH€€€F radio project Shred.fm was presented on location in Espoo in May, and made later available for download.
Feedback – solo exhibition at Galleria 2, Pirkkala in April. Subtitled “samples from cyclic processes”, the show presented works related to feedback, recycling and loops.
A collaborative film/installation project Out 2 presented at the Research Pavilion in Venice Biennale in August.
+ More TH€€€F, on record and live.
+ Two new cinematic works in progress to be completed.
+ Finish my Master’s thesis for Aalto university.
+ Collaborations with acquaintances old & new.
+ Archival excavations, to let some selected old works (buried but not forgotten) be seen in new light.
+ Last but certainly not least: Go out more than last year, to meet old and new friends.
A frame grab from a work-in-progress moving image piece The Unfolding.
Janus, the two-faced god of beginnings, passages and transitions, here symbolizes the Winter Solstice. The darkest spot of the yearly cycle invites one to a pause; to look back and worth to time passed and time to come. It is time to make sense of things done, and to make plans for the future.
Shred.fm is an electroacoustic composition based on live sampling of random radio broadcasts. Samples are splintered and resequenced relying on chance, intuition and bleeding edge algorithms. Shred.fm is an immersive abstract sound collage, occasionally reminding of the pop music it plundered, mostly ploughing the fields of sound art and noise. Shred.fm is a piece of tape music for broadcast radio.
The initial version of Shred.fm was generated in April 2017 for broadcast via the All Ears Radio Project. The outcome of any subsequent versions will depend entirely on the temporal and locational circumstances therein.
TH€€€F is a plunderphonic sound art project founded by Niko Skorpio. Focusing on live sampling of radio broadcasts and recorded music, TH€€€F tears down the cultural notions of order and convention and lets something new emerge from the debris. What might appear as noise or nonsense to a culturally conditioned mind may unfold as vast non-euclidian landscapes or sentient sonic entities to one temporarily liberated from such constraints. As such, TH€€€F is a new kind of psychedelic music aimed for deep listening and self-exploration.
SonoLuminal Day Spa
5x colored lights (yellow, orange, green, blue, violet), mattresses, bedsheet, pillows, media players and headphones with stereo sound. Installed in the former ADD Lab space in Otaniemi, Espoo, 2016/12/09. Realized in collaboration with Axel Ball, Sofi Häkkinen, Suhyun Kim, Ilai Elias Lehto.