RELATIONSHIPS & TECHNOLOGY
We turn our connection-searching gaze to Videokaffe, an international artist collective with members in Finland, Germany, U.S. and Russia. Since its formation in 2011, the collective has had numerous exhibitions across the globe, seeking to find a nexus between the digital and the analogue through kinetic sculptures.
What associations does the word “relationship” have to you?
It manifests in many different ways in the work Videokaffe does, one aspect being that the exhibitions are very process oriented, working the social relationship between the maker and the visitor. During a project we will continue developing new pieces informed by that social exchange. In addition our pieces tend to be kinetic, responding to input so that the work becomes an ecosystem that changes dynamically over time. One example is a piece from our recent show at Galerie Anhava, where probabilities and chance parsed together a phrase of paint names and these in turn selected colours and shapes that were sonified. One element impacts another, and ricocheting relationships play an import role in the work. We live in a world of complex systems that seem like they’re teetering on breaking down, the work we make tries to embody this precariousness.
Which relationships influence your creative process?
As artists we are exploring the question of what technology can mean to art and how we can use technology to explain the human experience and still keep the traditions of the craft. In a way we are stranded between those two worlds, trying to find a way of folding them together and stay true to the analogue handwork and patience while integrating this incredibly alluring gem, the pinnacle of human achievement that is technology. After all, we live in a digital environment, which is what allows us to stay connected. We’re scattered all over the world, but technology allows us to build a workspace of the future, setting up multiple cameras in our studios so we can work and communicate freely.
Another key aspect of Videokaffe is that the space we’re in has a big impact on the work. Whether we’re in Open Source in Brooklyn or Galerie Anhava in Helsinki, we take over the space and inhabit it, because once you have that sense of home you can relax and create fluently. We also share an interest in discovering potential in common objects, finding the magic in normal stuff and recycle materials, and the places we go will always be alien to some of us, so it’s interesting to see what we can discover in the local environment. So we’re always on the hunt for new venues and spaces to discover.
What do you want to communicate with your work?
We believe in using the international language of art to solve creative problems, and that’s something particularly important in this day and age. Art is a space to talk about ideas that are presented through materials and processes. So it’s creating a space for thinking, for looking, for listening, for reflection, for not-thinking, for creating possible worlds outside of the colonization of mind, time and the gaze of the capital-normative-system. Every time we come together it’s exuberance. When surrounded by talented, dedicated people that you respect and enjoy working with, your ideas can take you anywhere. We want to communicate that spark of inspiration, these moments of wonder, and that people can go away thinking that life isn’t boring.
In what ways have your work changed you?
In every way, because everything we do is connected to art. Working with Videokaffe has changed us to be more exploring and free. It’s very much about working on site, meeting new people, talking to them and sharing stories. Over the time we have begun performing our sculptures as well, even though none of us was thinking that Videokaffe was a performance project. But the interaction between the members and the exhibition on site are very performative, and the process morphed into performance.
Can you describe a specific encounter that has affected you either personally or creatively?
The artistic family network that is Videokaffe itself has been the strongest experience. To be able to have a home across the world, coming together to do something you would not be able to do alone, something bigger than what one person alone would be able to think of. You always learn something new, because we are interested in different technical approaches, and that’s both inspiring and refreshing. When we come together we get a chance to have fun and leave thing open for each other to contribute ideas and impulses and explore and discover through play.
WORDS Vilde Valerie Bjerke Torset
PHOTO Videokaffe at Galerie Anhava, Helsinki, 2016, image courtesy of Jussi Tiainen