Timeline of Finnish media art – the 1980s

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The 1980s

The breakthrough of Finnish video art is proven at several festivals. Early music videos are a space for experimentation for many artists. The alternative crowd flocks to the Old Student House and its gallery Vanhan galleria starts showing international video art and new domestic works. New performance art groups adopt various media tools in their performances, exploring physicality and space. Interdisciplinary Artists’ Association MUU ry is established to promote new emerging art forms, and in addition to giving statements of cultural policy, the association starts exhibition and video café activities. Video, light, sound and computers are included in art schools’ study programmes, and municipal video workshops also train new creators. Works are also made on cinefilm, cassette tapes and slide projectors, and the international post art network extends to Finland. New communications technology is coming under cultural political scrutiny, and AVEK and VISEK launch new forms of support for the sector.


  • Osmo Lindeman publishes the book Elektroninen musiikki (Otava) (translates as Electronic Music). 


  • Asko Mäkelä founds Vanhan galleria in the Cultural Centre of the Helsinki Students’ Union and organizes exhibitions and video screenings.


  • Pekka Sirén, Erkki Kurenniemi and Pentti Kakkori produce Työn kantaatin (translates as Cantata for Work) commissioned by Yleisradio’s technical department. It is the first work made using 2-channel video and 4-channel electronic music and includes images of the building of YLE’s link tower and computer graphics.
  • Turppi group films a performance art video Earth Contacts in Lehtimäki. The members of the group are Marikki Hakola, Lea and Pekka Kantonen, Martti Kukkonen and Jarmo Vellonen.
  • The artificial personality and conversational automaton Kalle kotipsykiatri (translates as Kalle the home psychiatrist), programmed by Pekka Tolonen, is one of the first AI programmes published for home computers. The source code is published in the magazine Prosessori.
  • Tööt Films produces the computer animation Ukonlintu ja virvaliekki, (translates as Thunderbird and the Will-o’-the-wisp) directed by Antti Kari ja Jukka Ruohomäki.
  • 10th anniversary exhibition of the Dimensio group at Kunsthalle Helsinki. Erkki Kurenniemi’s self-propelling, cursing robot Master Chaynjis stirs up lively discussion. A visitor gets provoked and breaks the work.
  • Anneli Nygren’s Rakkaudesta rocktähteen (translates as For the Love of a Rock Star) is one of the author’s first video works after various cinefilm works.
  • Finnish and German video art at Sara Hildén Art Museum and gallery Vanhan galleria.
  • Artist group Jack Helen Brut’s Valokopio (translates as Photocopy), a performance combining “living sculptures”, slide projections and sound, premieres at the Helsinki Festival.


  • Arto Kytöhonka and Pekka Tolonen publish the Runeberg poem generator.
  • Ö-ryhmä group’s action Rahaa (translates as Money) during International Monetary Fund IMF’s Helsinki Congress.
  • Long Beach Museum of Art in California hosts the first international exhibition of Finnish video art. The exhibition is curated by Asko Mäkelä, artists include Mervi Kytösalmi-Buhl, Antti Kari and Tööt-Films, as well as the Turppi and Homo $ groups.
  • Valokuvataide – Arkitaide (translates as Photography art – Everyday art) event’s programme includes stereograms by Keijo Kansonen and neon sculptures by the Argon 18 group. Matti Knaapi’s radio phone controlled Nosturibaletti (translates as The Crane Ballet) takes over the construction site of the Forum shopping centre.
  • The ARS 83 exhibition presents an broad international overview of video art at Ateneum Art Museum.
  • A radio play of James Joyce’s Ulysses directed by Timo Humaloja takes over YLE’s Rinnakkaisohjelma channel for seven consecutive hours.
  • Conference of Nordic Video Art at Hanasaari. Erkki Kurenniemi gives a presentation on the topic “Computers will eat video” and Finland is also represented by Mervi Kytösalmi-Buhl.


  • Marikki Hakola’s media and consumption critical scratch video The Time is Right for… is her graduation work at the Academy of Fine Arts and the multi-channel video installation PRE is shown at gallery Vanhan galleria.
  • Peter Bashmakov and Väiski Putkonen open their Galactic AV service (Gap) in gallery Vanhan galleria. Works from the middle ground between video art and short film are included.
  • Pekka Nevalainen’s hour-long Raketti (translates as The Rocket) depicts the “flight” of a cardboard rocket placed against a TV monitor.
  • The Lahti AV Biennale is the first festival dedicated to audiovisual art. The event is organized until 1996.
  • The city of Kuopio establishes a video workshop. In the early 1990s, there are more than 30 such workshops operating in Finnish municipalities, which offer video production training and facilities for video artists


  • The University of Art and Design’s Arts Education department uses computers in visual arts education and produces works under the direction of Martina Paatela-Nieminen
  • Uusi teknologia, taiteet, taidepolitiikka (translates as New technology, arts, art policy) edited by Ritva Mitchell, is the first cultural policy publication that examines media technology and art.


  • Ihmisen reiät (translates as The Holes of a Human) – a composition for film video, slide, audio tape, spotlight, human and paper – is performed at the Jyväskylän Kesä event. The joint production of Jack Helen Brut and Homo $ groups is directed by Satu Kiljunen and Annette Arlander.
  • Markku Metsämäki’s photogrammetric 3D work Iron Man is awarded at ACM Siggraph in the USA. The technique of the work was later used in photogrammetric 3D scanners.
  • Magnus Lindberg and Juha Siltanen’s radiophonic work Faust wins the radio series of the Prix Italia competition.
  • The Department of Light and Sound Design starts at the Theatre Academy.
  • AV training in Finland is started by the videography department of the Lahti Art Academy (Design Institute), where several early media artists study.
  • YLE’s six-part Videootti programme series presents productions made in video workshops.


  • Erkki Pirtola begins 30 years of event recording with a video camera.
  • Pekka Sirén (YLE) and Agnieszka Waligórska found the sound art group ProTon Sonic Art Group.
  • The dystopian media spectacle Piipää by Marikki Hakola, Kaija Saariaho and working group is presented at the Old Student House.
  • The Auki group records performances in Northern Norway on video and as photographs and uses the material in the Jumalan silmä (translates as the Eye of God) installation built at the Old Student House.
  • Rauma Art Museum opens annual video events, which continue during the Electronic Art Weeks 1992–95. Janne Koski is responsible for the programme.
  • The founding meeting of MUU ry is held in the book cafe of the University of Helsinki’s student union. As its mission, the association defines the promotion of performance, spatial, conceptual, environmental and lifestyle arts as well as video art and computer-assisted arts.
  • The Centre for the Promotion of Audiovisual Culture AVEK is established as a member organization of copyright organization Kopiosto. Under the leadership of General Secretary Juha Samola, AVEK distributes the annual copying fee determined by the Ministry of Education as support for authors and productions. AVEK’s operating model is internationally unique, and it becomes a key supporter of short films and media art productions.
  • Visek the Centre for the Promotion of Visual Arts is established in connection with Kuvasto, the copyright society for visual artists. Visek gives grants to visual artists. The grants are covered, like AVEK, mainly from the refund funds of the Ministry of Education and Culture.
  • The Heureka Science Centre is opened.


  • Kaija Saariaho’s radiophonic work Stilleben wins the radio series of the Prix Italia competition. The Austrian ORF radio company commissions a video from Marikki Hakola based on the composition Stilleben – Milena’s Journey for the Ars Electronica television gala in Linz in 1989.
  • Harri Larjosto’s photo sequence and video work Transitions is shown at Helsinki-Vantaa Airport and Tikkurila’s urban space.
  • The Image of Disease video animation by the Matrix Mind group (Otso Pakarinen & Pekka Tolonen) visualizes the HIV code.
  • MUU ry’s Megapaja event declares itself a centre of contemporary art. The programme of the two-month long event in Katajanokka’s old machine shop includes site specific works, performances and a video cafe. 
  • MUU ry also participates in the group exhibition of the gallery of the Finnish Painters’ Union. Artists include Lauri Anttila and Outi Heiskanen.
  • Kai Salomaa’s, Markku Uimonen’s and Juha Westman’s light work Valoaalto “washes” the walls of Finlandia Hall during the Helsinki Festival, and Ekku Peltomäki’s laser light work Finlandia is shown at the Senate Square in Helsinki.


  • Marjatta Oja presents the Pöytä (translates as Table) video sculpture that uses projection as part of her thesis.
  • Olli Kortekangas’ radiophonic work Memoria wins a Special Award at the Prix Italia competition.
  • PoemStar poem generator (computer program) by Arto Kytöhonka and Kari Seitsonen.
  • International mail art exhibition Optimism Mail Art at the Museum of Modern Art Tampere. The exhibition is put together by Ilkka-Juhani Takalo-Eskola and Arto Kytöhonka
  • The Muu We You summer exhibition at the Billnäs historical ironworks presents works by almost a hundred artists, including Muu artists, Estonian avant-garde artists and the Colab artists’ group from New York. According to critic Leena-Maija Rossi, the light and sound installation Arbeit Macht Frei by Tarja Ervasti, Marita Liulia and Ilkka Volanen achieves the broadest conceptual synthesis of the exhibition.
  • MUU ry starts exhibition and event activities at Helsinki’s VR (Finnish state railway) depot opposite the House of Parliament. AV-arkki is established as part of MUU ry to archive works and provide equipment for presenting works.
  • The Kuopio International Video Festival is organized in collaboration between MUU ry, AV-arkki and Kuopio’s video workshop. Perttu Rastas, Erkki Huhtamo and Olli Väänänen are responsible for the programme.
  • The State Committee for Communications Culture proposes an extensive development programme to promote video production, but the Ministry of Finance rejects the proposal. The topic is discussed in the Helsingin Sanomat newspaper, where representatives of MUU ry and AVEK are concerned about the fate of independent video, video art and video workshops.

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