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Hotel Futuro - Mika Taanila at Spacex Gallery
Hotel Futuro - Mika Taanila.

EXETER, UK.- spacex Gallery will present Hotel Futuro - Mika Taanila, from March 5 until April 23. The first one-person gallery survey in the UK of recent film-works by Finnish artist Mika Taanila is presented at spacex. The exhibition also includes the premiere of Taanila’s new film, Optical Sound, co-commissioned by spacex, LUX and Kinotar.

Mika Taanila studied cultural anthropology in Helsinki, video design in Lahti, and worked as a documentary filmmaker and director of music videos, as well as an artist. Reflecting this range of practice, his works are collages of archive materials, found footage of amateur films and documentary, combined with electronic music. A common theme is a fascination with science fiction, and the futuristic ideas and utopias of the recent past. There is a focus upon the technological dreams of the previous generation.

In his film Futuro – A New Stance for Tomorrow (1998) Taanila explores the history of an icon of space-age design, the 100% plastic Futuro House designed by Matti Suuronen in 1968; an egg-shaped, prefabricated portable building. The film traces the short history of this structure, which symbolizes ‘the dream of the future’ of the late 1960s, examining the utopian, ‘Made-In-Finland’ vision, and also how the oil crisis put an abrupt end to the project in 1974. Today the Futuro House stands for a utopia that almost came true.

The Future Is Not What It Used To Be (2002) is a portrait in film of one of the unsung pioneers of early electronic art, Finnish scientist and artist Erkki Kurenniemi. It is a film about the 1960s avant-garde in music and film, the early history of microcomputers but also the open questions of 21st century science. Taanila links the past to the present by showing excerpts of Kurenniemi’s early experimental films alongside documentation of his current project, in which he obsessively catalogues details of his everyday life so that he might be re-constructed again, in the future, after his death.

The three-screen installation A Physical Ring (2002) is based on fragments of found-footage, documenting an anonymous Finnish physics test that took place in the 1940s. The purpose of this experiment remains unclear. With a meticulous editing technique, Taanila transforms the material into a visual fantasy steeped in hypnotic effects, accompanied by a minimalist soundtrack composed by Mika Vainio (Pan Sonic).

Taanila’s latest film, Optical Sound (2005), is based on the live performance of the Symphony for 12 Dot Matrix Printers by the Canadian artist duo [The User]. The film inter-cuts close-ups of the mechanical parts of the printers performing the piece, taken from surveillance cameras placed inside the machines, with images of the ASCII files' score being played, which has been photocopied straight onto clear film without the use of a camera. These live images are contrasted with time-lapse footage of large modern office blocks shot from the streets, at dawn and dusk, in Helsinki.

[The User] says of Symphony for 12 Dot Matrix Printers, “Nowadays technology defines our relationship to our surroundings. Whether it’s about communication, making music, or producing food, the tools; phone, record player, genetic engineering; have a crucial role in the process and the result itself."

Taanila says of Optical Sound: "Our senses are used to the grey noise of technology that floats among us all the time. Its time, for a change, to LISTEN to that technology! Optical Sound focuses the attention of the spectator on the presence of technology. The film is critical of the ‘brilliance’ of technology; intentional mis-use of technology becomes art. While contemporary technology is trying its best to be smooth, invisible and fast, the film makes it visible and plays around with it.”

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