Timeline of Finnish media art – the 1960s

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The 1960s

Culture radicalism and technological experimentation inspires art, the meaning of which is the subject of heated debate between artists of the old school and ones exploring new aesthetics. Anti-establishment underground art emerges as a counterreaction to established avant-garde art. A young generation of artists begins to make electronic music and computer art, and in the early 1960s, Yleisradio adopts video technology for TV use. Experimental expression expands multidimensionally in the fields of film, radio art, sculpture, dance, theatre, happening and poetry. The potential of electronics and electronic sound is explored with transistor technology and early digital device innovations.


  • Bengt Johansson realises Finland’s first electronic tape music work Kolme elektronista harjoitelmaa (translates as Three Electronic Studies) for YLE. The synthetic sound material is generated with oscillators. The work is presented at the Nordic Music Days in Stockholm.
  • YLE organized Finland’s first four-channel electronic music concert at the University of Helsinki.
  • In the Summer, two Ampex VR-1000 video recorders arrive at YLE’s television studio and television switches to using recoding video technology. During the first months, art and music performances are recorded on video tape for use in later transmissions.


  • The first portrait produced on a computer in the style of ASCII art is printed on an IBM-machine in the Amerikka tänään (translates as America today) exhibition. The subject of the picture is president Kekkonen.
  • Seppo Mustonen creates a computer program in the electronics department of the Finnish Cable Factory. The program creates and plays real-time generative computer music.
  • Wayne Wiitanen, of Finnish origin, conceives the Spacewar! game at MIT, one of the most significant early interactive video games developed for the digital computer.


  • Riitta Vainio performs the dance piece Kotka (translates as Eagle) live on Yleisradio’s television show Studio 1. This is the first performance of modern dance on Finnish television. Later, Eino Ruutsalo realises background projections for Vainio’s performances and produces the short film Kotka. Vainio continues interdisciplinary collaboration with visual artists and musician throughout the 1960s.


  • Eino Ruutsalo’s short film Kaksi kanaa (translates as Two Chickens) with music by Otto Donner.
  • Erkki Samenhaara’s sound piece and sculpture Sävellys ferrofonille (translates as Composition for Ferrophone) is based on a large metal plate that is played.
  • Erkki Kurenniemi draws computer graphics for a cathode ray tube on the University of Helsinki’s Nuclear Physics department’s EAI Pace TR-48 analog machine and publishes the article Kokeita analogialaskijalla (translates as Experiments on an Analogue Calculator).
  • The Electronic Music Studio of the University of Helsinki is started by musicology professor Erik Tawaststjerna’s decision. Volunteer assistant Erkki Kurenniemi is responsible for the operation.
  • Kurenniemi presents the University of Helsinki’s studio at Stockholm’s Elektroniska Festspel and Iannis Xenakis tells about the potential of computers in music.
  • Ken Dewey directs happenings in Helsinki, in which among others Terry Riley, Jan Bark and Finnish artists take part. YLE TV1 broadcasts The Pasila Piece, a TV happening filmed in the studio.
  • Liisa Tenkku teaches sound based music education at the Finnish co-educational school. Pupils make audio works from the sounds they record with a reel-to-reel tape recorder. In the 1970s, Tenkku and Ellen Urho develop a method for teaching sound and publish instructions for producing sound works in their textbooks.


  • Ensio Suominen and Olli Hämäläinen implement the first visualization of electronic music. 3.5.1964 TV2 screens a programme based on Reijo Jyrkiäinen’s electronic works on the Musiikin maailmasta (translates as From the World of Music) show.
  • Merce Cunningham’s Dance Company performs in Helsinki and Turku. A film recording of the Helsinki performance is published. The company’s composer-musicians John Cage and David Tudor record Cage’s Atlas Eclipticalis at YLE’s studio on Kasarmikatu. The finishing touches are left to sound engineer Reijo Jyrkiäinen, who mixes the multitrack recordings together.
  • Kurenniemi experiments with digital circuits and makes recordings on a self-built integrated synthesizer that combines digital and analogue technology.
  • Henrik Otto Donner and Ismo Kajander produce the melodic installation Musiikkikone (translates as Music Machine).


  • Eino Ruutsalo’s short film Hyppy (translates as “The Jump”) with music by Erkki Kurenniemi and Otto Donner.
  • A seminar of Algorythmic music is organized during the Jyväskylän Kesä event, where Erkki Kurenniemi presents an integrates synthesizer.
  • The performers of Katri Nironen’s experimental speech choral work Agadir explore the boundaries of the human voice using performing arts, physical movement and electronic amplification.
  • Väinö Kirstinä’s poem Luonnollinen tanssi (translates as Natural dance) is aired on the Runostudio radio programme. Tytti Paavolainen’s recitals are augmented by electronic sounds and voice that is manipulated in the studio.


  • At Turku students’ art event, sound art gets its own place in the programme. The event also presents two computer compositions and computer graphics by Ulla Huttunen (Pursiheimo) 
  • Antero Takala’s video work Juopunut pursi (translates as The Drunken Yacht) is based on Erkki Salmenhaara’s music and Arthur Rimbaud’s poem. Its experimental visuals, filmed on video tape at the YLE studios, use multi-camera technique. The work uses image manipulation, special effects, smoke and unfocused image and marks the beginning of Finnish video art.
  • Jan Barkin’s (SE) and Erkki Kurenniemi’s Spindrift  is the first experimental computer animation in the Nordic countries. The piece is shown in Dipoli’s computer music seminar in 1967 and on Swedish television SVT in 1968.
  • Helsinki City Theatre starts using compute-based stage lighting.


  • Katri Niironen founds Collegium Artium. The group combines physical movement, sound, electronic music and projection and gains recognition in Europe. At the Venice Biennale in 1970., an international jury selects the performance Strontium as one of the three best performances.
  • Erkki Salmenhaara’s Information Explosion  is the first tape music recording release in Finland.
  • Literary magazine Parnasso starts publishing film and television critiques and Finnish translations of texts by Hans Magnus Enzenberger and Marshall McLuhan as well as Keith Allsop’s essay Muzak.


  • Eino Ruutsalo builds the Valo ja liike (translates as Light and Movement) exhibition. The exhibition space of the Amos Anderson museum transforms into a kinetic light and sound experience that includes experimental films.
  • Osmo Valtonen realizes his first kinetic works, which are presented in a solo exhibition at gallery Pinx.
  • J. O. Mallander publishes the audio disk Extended play with only one word, “Kekkonen”, constantly repeated.
  • At the Sähköshokki (translates as Electrical Shock) evening at the Old Student House, Erkki Kurenniemi modulates Claes Andersson’s and Kalevi Seilonen’s poetry recitals with the synthesizer he built.
  • Peter Widén’s film Taiteen kuolema (translates as The Death of Art) is screened at Sperm’s concerts. The explicit sex depiction in the film leads to Widén prison sentence, and the authorities destroy the film reel.
  • At the Students’ Art Event in Dipoli, the relationship between art and technology is discussed. The event, which introduces artwork, performance art and experimental film is a roaring success. At the seminar, Erkki Kurenniemi presents a music terminal for networked computers and M. A. Numminen the Melody Machine of the Sähkökvartetti (translates as Electronic Quartet). Markku Nurminen introduces computer tango, Jaakko Malmivuo’s electronic rhythm machine accompanies the band Surprise, and Otto Donner loops recordings of his band’s live performance in concert. Timo Aarniala realizes a psychedelic light show for the event with prepared slide projector, oil and dyes.
  • In Dipoli, President Kekkonen switches on the largest acoustic-kinetic sculpture in Finland. The seven meter high sculpture Käpy (translates as Pine Cone) by Reijo Perkko, Heikki Koivikko and Philip Donner opens and closes and produces a sound event designed by Donner.
  • In a radio show broadcast by YLE, a team of experts compete against the computer of the University of Tampere in trying to guess the author of a text by hearing an excerpt.


  • Photokinetic works by Veikko Eskolin, Esa Lauremaa, Aimo Taleva and the Aloha group in the Exhibition of Young Artists.
  • The laboratory of Strömberg Oy begins to manufacture keyboard-controlled colour-music apparatus, i.e. light organs.
  • Osmo Lindeman establishes a home studio for electronic music and orders the sequencer-oscillator Dico from Erkki Kurenniemi.

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