Timeline of Finnish media art – The Early Stages

The Early Stages | 1920s to 1950s | The 1960s | The 1970s |
The 1980s | The 1990s | The 2000s | The 2010s

The Early Stages

Media art has no specific birth date, its first impulses can be seen in early experiments with electricity, sound and light. As early as 1799, the Italian explorer Giuseppe Acerbi records in his diary the “electronic apparatuses” he saw in Finland. Discharges of static electricity can be produced in experimenters’ home laboratories and are demonstrated and admired. Electric light is tested in 1877, and the first space permanently lit by electric light is opened at the Finlayson factory in 1882, ahead of other Nordic countries and Russia. Finland is internationally networked, and experts know what is happening at the forefront of art and science development. Erig Tigerstedt’s innovations in the 1910s give a new direction to the development of technological art and put him in the forefront of the most significant inventors of his era. The development, which has started so promisingly, is cut short by the First World War.


  • Alexander Leinonen conducts sound experiments in the United States with a sound-recording phonograph. The first phonograph is purchased in Finland in 1879.


  • The club for amateur photographers Amatörfotografklubben i Helsingfors is founded in Helsinki.


  • The Polytechnic Collage of Helsinki builds an electric light piano. The instrument has 150 coloured lights, which are controlled by the keyboard.


  • Daniel Nyblin gives a lecture at the Amatörfotografklubben about the possibilities of radiography and presents coloured images and close-up pictures of snow crystals created for the sciopticon magic lantern.
  • Lumière’s Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory is shown in Helsinki a mere six months after the film was completed.


  • Juho Uoti makes public an electronic instrument, the electric organ. The instrument is the first electronic instrument in the world designed for collective live playing.
  • Inventor Heikki Salmi builds a sound machine that records and plays sound and music.


  • At the Biografi Theatre in Tampere, Heikki Salmi uses his sound machine to accompany the silent film Images from the funeral of Eugén Schauman in Porvoo. Years later, Salmi produces “cinematic graffiti” by secretly projecting images and film clips on the wall of Oy Enqvist’s factory in Killinkoski.


  • From 1911 to 1915, Eric Tigerstedt makes several inventions related to the recording of sound for cinema as well as microphone, amplifier, speaker, radio and telephone technology. Along with a portable telephone, he invents magnetic video recording and presents the principle of television (“the electric eye”).


  • Ilmari Jäämaa publishes “The Guidebook For A Young Experimenter and Inventor”. Jäämaa is a pioneer of hobby electronics and electronics workshops and the publication offers media technology-related building plans and stimuli for DIY builders for decades.

The Early Stages | 1920s to 1950s | The 1960s | The 1970s |
The 1980s | The 1990s | The 2000s | The 2010s