You started to study at University of Art and Design in Helsinki, where you graduated in Photography department. At the same time you attended Additional studies in Academy of fine arts on Media department (space and time). Then you left to California where you fulfilled Fulbright grantee on MFA in Critical studies and Integrated medias. Since 2006 to 2011 you spent your time by studying at Plymouth University where you finished your PhD.
How do you think all your different studies impact you? How could your work looks like without them now? Can you imagine that you would have stayed just in Helsinki for whole time?
Studying for me at the time was also a way to afford my own practice as artists; in other words, not having to work but could learn more and most of all experiment with my artistic interests.
The PhD degree I did later – there was 8-9 years in between where I worked in Art Academy and part of the time as an independent artist.
I am very curious as a person and studies have been a way for me to find new interesting issues, and most of all to meet many interesting people. Obviously, they have all impacted me, but most of all certain people that I have met through doing these studies, rather than only studies themselves.
I have no idea how my works would look without the past I have – not sure if I would even be an artist. One thing is clear for me – the travels and living in various countries have made my works smaller. This has a very practical reason also – it is not so easy to find a studio in a place where one is new, as well as transporting works is always an issue.
What turned your career from independent artist to University professor and what does it gave to you?
I took a job as a Professor in Art Academy of Oslo in early 2000’s. I guess that is where it began --- At that time I had first time a feeling that I am beginning to be ready to share my knowledge, networks and thinking with students. Then I did my PhD afterwards – and during those years I began attending academic conferences additionally to exhibitions, and found an interesting world with dialogues, discussions and rigor. While finishing my PhD, after the Professorship in Oslo, I got used to the idea that academia could be a place for me where I can continue in-depth work with my interests including artistic practice and conceptual thinking.
But, I consider myself an accidental academic; before the PhD, I was never educated to that direction, and originally I never imagined to become a Professor.
What brought you to biology, technology and science?
That is an interesting question. It happened in a sequence; I have had a tendency to jump to things that scare me a bit – originally one of them was technology. So, I started studying photography at the first place, and computers came in to my reality at the end of the photography studies. The moment I realized that I could imitate real-time behavior with computers I got hooked. This was obviously an opposite of photography, which always presents a past moment. When working with technologies (but being educated in the arts) I
started combining technology with humans – this was an early phase of so-called ‘wearables’. I was not interested in fashion-aspects but of human enhancement. And gradually also other organisms started appearing in my works – in an early wearable work that combines human, fruit flies and mobile network (Fruit Fly Farm 2005). And parallel to these experiments I started reading more about biology and especially on biotechnology – as well as I found myself in the emerging European bioart circles. From my point of view, it is
very clear that biology and technology are gradually merging as fields. But for me the question is; what does that mean? So, I am currently investigating ways we employ technology and technology-infused thinking into biological and other matter, as well as to
ourselves and our environment.
One works with our brains, ability to understand facts which are irrefutable and second one (art) is playing with our imagination, possibility of do and make everything without exact datas / facts. What is a connecting point of both areas? And what is so special about is for you?
I think one of the abilities of artists is the creation of unexpected connections that can then reveal new perspectives. In terms of connecting different fields; I think art / art-world needs
to have connections to other fields and society at large. We are living in an era where we face many challenges concerning environment, humanity, politics – also art should think
what kind of role it can take in all this. But I am not calling for art to ‘serve’ other fields, rather finding ways where it can make an impact as art.
What your lectures were about as a university professor? What did you teach your students? (what do you teach now, and where?)
My recent lectures deal with art-science-technology cross-overs; artificial life/intelligence, robotics, life, manipulation of biological organisms, et., and how they are present or have
been dealt with in the arts. I have a course this spring on Artistic Research – in that we will read through many publications on artistic research and its definitions, but we will also learn a scientific laboratory method. In other words, I am juxtaposing the theory on artistic research with rigid science method.
Do you consider yourself more as a scientist or artist? What was / is your most valuable artwork so far?
Definitely artist who plays around sciences. I am trained as a professional artist and I am not trained as scientist.
Do you think is there in Finland good conditions to develop such a specific art as you do? What country / project / cooperation brought you most interesting results?
At the moment Finland has quite good infrastructure for this type of work (art & science, bioart, art & tech), and also, I am there!
Finland also has small art-organisations supporting experimental art scene, such as Bioart Society, Pixelache and Museum Of Impossible Forms, among others.
What does Entrotopia / and participation on this project means to you?
For me, first of all it was a good push to finish a work. I am chronically lacking time, and often it is one’s own artistic work that suffers the most, but exhibition forces one to finish.
And this will bring all the work and research further.
Where do you think is your work heading and what are your future goals in art's field?
Currently, I am working on few different tracks; one concerns of liquids and use of liquids in art and science (like the work in the Entrotopia exhibition). Then I have an on-going other
project concerning ticks and dealing with evolving relation between ticks, their pathogens and humans. This is a collaboration with Kira O’Reilly. And then… I have many ideas and unfinished earlier projects concerning plants, soft-robotics, etc. All of them involve
technology and/or sciences in one way or another.