Susanna Mäkinen (S) Juan Kasari (J)
Skype Interview 2.7.2013
S: What does the exhibition title mean and why is it in German?
J: I had read old articles in German to do with optics, whilst making the Spectroscope and I kept running in to the same German word over and over again in different contexts. The word seemed to have a lot of the same meanings as this exhibition. When I wrote my press release I was playing around with various expressions, that I could use to describe the content of the exhibition and finally noticed that this word actually encompassed all that was needed. The press release was deliberately very short, in my own opinion it could have just been one word. (Gewohnheit – habit, custom)
The German language is still referred to as a type of technical language particularly in reference to older technical appliances. Channel Zero on the other hand... in fact often, in my studio, when I look at these ”representative” diagonal lines, colours and compositions born from format errors, I wonder do these images make any sense. I have often had the same feeling as if I was watching static on television. On the other hand perhaps this is what the pictures are all about. After a certain period of time the works may begin to take on some mystical and meditative qualities, if they are given that chance.
S: In my opinion, in your exhibition at Gallery Hippolyte at the end of last year, there were clear references to art in the early 1900's as well as to the 1960's art movement Light and Space from California. Also the works of Peter Halley and other abstract expressionists came to mind. Taking all this in to account it would not be a surprise, that a certain kind of spiritual undertone could be found in your works. The colour scape in your new works also seem to have been influenced by Pop Art. Can you explain how your works, the ones that have been named after co-ordinates (koordinaatit), were created?
J: It was also a surprise to me how many people experienced this exhibition as having meditative, quiet and even religious tones. Perhaps, because my pictures don't have a clear tangible surface it allows the viewer more space? This however was not the starting point for these works, but it is an interesting nuance to consider when interpreting the works. These particular 'co-ordinate' works were made by taking pictures through the Spectroscope I built (with some added filters to create the shapes). The time and place each photograph was taken has also been written down precisely. So in practice, I have gone to different locations in Helsinki and photographed the sky/light and then recorded the co-ordinates of the place. The camera has been connected to the Spectroscope structure. You could think of it, as the photographs, being taken through two different kinds of cameras. I wanted the images to have a clinical shiny surface, so the use of Silisec a typical acrylic lamination was a clear choice.
In addition to these types of works at Jangva, I will also be exhibiting pictures/compositions comprised from my attempts to salvage damaged image files. The computer has made ”mis-calculations” when trying to fix broken (or purposefully broken) files and the result is something other than the original image. What then is the original image? That is what in both of these things is in question in both at the end of the day.
S: So you are depicting a certain kind of reality, the kind of light and observations, that we cannot make with the naked eye. The fact that your photographs are based on a glass spectra and its reflections, to me seem to clearly point towards mysticism as well as the idea of machine made art. That sounds a lot like the futurist mentality from the early 1900's.
J: True. I can understand this connection and I think it's intriguing. In fact I've been thinking about taking this concept even further, for example by mixing electricity with the light or something else that would be even more in line with futurist ideas. When colour tones are separated from white light with the help of the spectre, we get to a place where we can ask certain kinds of fundamental questions. The same is repeated in the images that have, because of format errors, been destroyed and then recounted from the pieces to create an intact image. This is referred to in the press release as reality and its interpretation. I think that this is some kind of interpretation of reality. What is truly the starting point and how does the information within the image change through different devices? Can we think that in actuality the original digital image is a series of ones and zeros and that everything else after that is a kind of interpretation of this? You mentioned Pop Art and as far as the colours in the works go they do fall in to the scope of Pop Art. Of course, my works are influenced by American Pop Art artists and Conceptual artists.
S: We are talking about things that have multiple layers and their interpretation in reference to your work, which I believe is the most interesting part of your work. You strive to perceive the environment, its visible and invisible parts and to create your own visual language through this.
J: This is what the creation of art is all about for the most part, how we perceive our environment and ourselves in it. This is the kind of general explaining that artists do to qualify their work. Space, place, time and their definition. These are referred to too often in exhibition texts.
S: In your new artworks these issues are even more prevalent then in your previous exhibitions. Do you, for example, feel that your previous show at Jangva was based on a different starting point? Personally I did not see that particular exhibition, but judging by the pictures I have seen it included a closed microcosm, a living environment (gated community), and you studied the life of the community, their fears and motives. There was a lot of emphasis on figures, people and their stories. Now, in your new works you have left out the people completely and have concentrated solely on the environment. Even this has not been done in as concrete a way as before.
J: Actually the themes in all my exhibitions are similar, but in this instance I have not given the viewer references to help with their interpretations, instead I have left the viewer to their own devices. Previously I have made clear references to real things and people. In a way you can imagine that these new works are a type of anarchy. By creating images and installations, that aren't so easily interpreted in the midst of fast paced entertainment and rhythm, the act in itself becomes a clear political statement.
S At your studio you showed me some drawings, that were also possibly going to be part of this exhibition.
J Yes, the drawings were born in a slightly similar way as the Co-ordinate (koordinaatti) works. I have been going on long runs, tens of kilometres, the routes of which I have then drawn afterwards. The drawings aren’t entirely truthful, but have taken the shape I have imagined making on the environment. Whilst running I have tried to accurately perceive how my chosen route would delineate on to the paper. Therefore the work becomes performative in the same way that the previously mentioned co-ordinate (koordinaatti) works. There are a lot of drawings. I chose ten runs made in ten months, that were in someway meaningful. Originally, this project got started several years ago when I started to run a variety of shapes, eventually running in the shape of infinity. This is the first time these works have been exhibited publicly.