Timeline of Finnish media art – the 1990s

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The 1990s

The concept of media art becomes established in Finland. Interactive and multimedia art, virtual reality, telematics and the internet are becoming an object of interest among artists as well as in mainstream media. In video art, tape works expand into space as projected multi-channel moving image installations. Exhibition and performance environments become more diverse at festivals and galleries, and the Museum of Contemporary Kiasma starts to show media art regularly. International distribution work starts in AV-arkki. Art universities set up study programmes related to media art, and at the end of the 1990s, educational institutions focused on art and communication are established around Finland. Media art and culture are discussed in several Finnish-language publications, and reflection on the role of media art in cultural policy starts.


  • Petri Kuljuntausta’s Susilauma (translates as Pack of Wolves), an early work based on interspecies communication.
  • The killing of a cat in Teemu Mäki’s My Way raises a controversy in the media about the ethics of art, and the topic is also discussed at Muu ry’s seminar.
  • Paul Garrin and Dara Birnbaum are the main guests of the Kuopio Video Festival. A festival train brings guests to Helsinki, where a 16-monitor video wall shows the festival’s programme at the main train station.
  • MUU ry’s Muutospuisto (translates as Transformation Park) summer exhibition of environmental works, performance art and media art in the railway yard area of ​​Helsinki. The programme includes folk artist Matias Keskinen’s Kekkonen lähdössä kalaan (translates as Kekkonen Going Fishing) sculpture across from the House of Parliament, as well as Joan Jonas’ retrospective and Helsinki Performance.
  • Nordic video installation exhibition Interface – Nordic Video Art in Suomenlinna.
  • Ajattelevatko koneet  (translates as Do Machines Think) exhibition in Heureka.
  • Helsingin elokuvapaja (The Helsinki Film Workshop) is founded with Sami van Ingen as chairman. The association’s goal is to acquire equipment for filmmakers and to promote non-commercial experimental film
  • Taiteen laita (translates as The State of Art) programme series (Tarja Strandén, YLE TV1) deals with the expanded field of art: video art, installations, performance and actions. The publication related to the series is edited by Minna Tarkka and Ilppo Pohjola.
  • MUU ry and Porkkana ry participate in the discussion about the future Museum of Contemporary Art. MUU ry favours an “activity centre”-type of museum that would enable the production of works.
  • The state award for Fine Arts is awarded to MUU ry’s founding members and activists Risto Heikinheimo, Marikki Hakola, Minna Tarkka.
  • The report of the State Video Commission Video for the 1990s. Video workshops and alternate communication creates an overview of the 1980s, the decade of video. “Home video has become a tame domestic pussycat, but video workshops can turn out to be wild beasts”, says Juha Samola in the Helsingin Sanomat newspaper.


  • The tradition of the Kuopio Video Festival is continued by MuuMediaFestival in Helsinki. In the programme is the first exhibition of interactive art at the Otso gallery in Espoo, curated by Erkki Huhtamo and gallery director Päivi Talasmaa. MMF Festival continues until 1998.
  • The largest electronic art exhibition in Scandinavia at Retretti Art Centre in Punkaharju.
  • Acoustic artworks produced by YLE’s Radioateljee are built into an exhibition Äänen viisi kehää (translates as The Five Circles of Sound) at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Radioatelje, founded by Harri Huhtamäki in 1979, has 150,000 listeners every week.
  • Yleisradio acquires a virtual set design system and the first virtual set designs for TV programmes are realized by Markku Metsämäki.
  • AV-arkki becomes independent as its own association, with Perttu Rastas as director.
  • Espoo art and information technology centre Cartes starts. The centre promotes the research, development and presentation of art and information technology that applies new information technology and technology. In 2013, Cartes is merged with the Espoo Museum of Modern Art (EMMA).
  • The first educational institutions for art and communication are established in Tampere and Turku.


  • In Juha van Ingen’s video work (Dis)Integrator, a scene from Kurt Neumann’s film the Fly (1958) is copied onto a VHS tape over and over until the image and sound disintegrate into noise and disappear.
  • Mein Kampf in Media by Kimmo Koskela and Rea Pihlasviita, winner of the Grand Prix at the Lahti AV Biennale, arouses heated discussion about the content and techniques of media art. In Filmihullu magazine, on the other hand, there is discussion about video art.
  • AV-arkki’s first video compilation aimed at international distribution Finnish Media Art of the 1990s. The compilation is curated by Minna Tarkka and presented at The Kitchen art institution in New York early in 1993.
  • Assembly, the main event of the Finnish demoscene culture, is held for the first time.
  • The Computer Imaging Institute (IMI) is established at the University of Art and Design. The syllabus focuses on virtual reality, new media and 3D animation. Antti Kari is assistant professor and Timo Koho the lecturer.
  • The Audiovisual Media Culture teaching programme of the University of Lapland is launched in Rovaniemi under the leadership of Tapio Varis and Hannu Eerikäinen. There is a discussion in daily newspapers about the relationship between media science, communication science and media art. Erkki Huhtamo works as a professor of media science 1994–96.


  • Eija-Liisa Ahtila makes a three-channel installation of monitors ME/WE, OKAY, GRAY. In the 1995 installation If 6 Was 9, Ahtila uses projected image.
  • Lea and Pekka Kantonen’s video diary installation and performance Joka hetki (translates as Every Moment) at the Wäinö Aaltonen Museum of Art and Mänttä Art Festival.
  • Ilppo Pohjola’s short film about transsexuality, P(l)ain Truth, combines cinematic narration and video graphics. The film is one of the first media art productions to be supported by the Finnish Film Foundation.
  • Surplus FX, Hannu Puttonen’s retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art: music videos, video essays and experimental film.
  • The Double, compiled by Anton Nikkilä and Mika Taanila, a collection of Russian industrial music, low-tech and underground music videos, is premiered at the MuuMediaFestival
  • Nils-Aslak Valkeapää’s Lintusinfonia (translates as Bird Symphony) is presented on YLE. The radiophony, a Nordic collaboration. is based on the soundscapes of the migrating Sámi.
  • Birdy, the music video of the band 22-Pistepirkko, directed by Mika Taanila, takes fifth place in the Video Song Contest organized by MTV Europe for the first time.
  • Interaktiivinen puutarha  (translates as Interactive Garden) exhibition at the MuuMediaFestival in Galleria Otso: top international works premiered in Finland. Artists include Bill Seaman, Paul Sermon and Christa Sommerer and Laurent Mignonneau.
  • Mediagalleria operating in Turku’s Book Cafe opens a media cafe and organizes the international SAFE Festival.
  • The Videopolis series starts showing experimental short films and video art on YLE TV 1 channel.
  • The Academy of Fine Arts gets the status of an Art University, and a new training program in space- and time-based art starts under the leadership of the rector, professor Lauri Anttila.
  • The Media Lab of the University of Art and Design Helsinki is established by merging the Computer Imaging Institute IMI and Computer Aided Photography CAP units. The new MA in New Media training program is started.
  • CompuCafé, perhaps the first internet café in the world, is opened in the centre of Helsinki.
  • The Video Taide Media (translates as Video Art Media) anthology is published by publishing house Taide, edited by Minna Tarkka.
  • Media art gets its own production advisor at AVEK: Perttu Rastas.


  • Marita Liulia publishes the CD-ROM work Maire and makes an international breakthrough in 1996 with the work Ambitious Bitch.
  • The Application Exhibition at Kunsthalle Helsinki, curated by Kimmo Sarje and Hannu Eerikäinen, presents visual and media art as well as design. The programme includes a telematic work by Kimmo Koskela and Rea Pihlasviita and a retrospective of Finnish video art in the Vapauden aukio gallery.
  • Anneli Nygren’s video works are presented in a retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art.
  • Heidi Tikka’s exhibition in the gallery of the Finnish Painters’ Union, interactive video projection A Child (Is Being Beaten) and the stereoscopic installation Screen Memories.
  • Ambient City performs experimental electronic music on the frequency 96.8 Mhz. The transmission station is a minimalist metal sculpture in the Museum of Contemporary Art. The working group of the station, which operated until 2002, includes Iiro Auterinen, Tommi Grönlund, Matti Knaapi, Petteri Nisunen and Elukka Eskelinen.
  • ISEA’94 – International Symposium on Electronic Arts event of electronic art in Helsinki. The event, organized by the University of Art and Design Helsinki, includes a conference, exhibitions, concerts, screenings and other events. Cyber ​​culture, telematics and virtual art are the main topics of discussion.
  • In the Nordicil seminar held in K-13 theatre, the future of experimental film and virtual space is discussed.


  • Annikki Luukela’s light work Verkosto (translates as Network) opens at Kaisaniemi metro station.
  • Henrietta Lehtonen’s work Infant is presented at the Venice Biennale as a “video painting” on the wall of the Renaissance church of San Giovanni in Bragora.
  • Lux Sonor at Kunsthalle Helsinki. The exhibition curated by Denise Ziegler features film, video and light, space and sound works by 18 artists.
  • ARS 95 presents computer games as works of art and works based on artificial life algorithms.
  • Lea and Pekka Kantonen’s Teltta (translates as Tent), a sound, text and photo installation made with the Rarámurs of Mexico, the Setukai of Estonia and the Sami of Finland, is shown for the first time in the Kluuvi gallery. The community art project Teltta continues until 2005.
  • Jan-Erik Andersson realizes the Clean/Puhdas/Ren online work in Sculptor Gallery.
  • The Jouko Koivusaari – Simo Alitalo group and Petri Kuljuntausta are awarded in the Faroe Horn sound art competition of the first Nordic sound art festival Sounding Islands.
  • Electronic Art 95 Exhibition in Rauma Art Museum and Kuopio Art Museum.
  • At MuuMediaFestival, art in information networks is explored and an Artist in cyberspace workshop is organized. The programme also includes YLE TV1’s 3-hour long Late Night Show about media art.
  • Valon Voimat (translates as The Force of Light) light festival starts, produced by the city of Helsinki.
  • The programme of MUU ry’s first performance art festival Amorph! also includes media performances.
  • The Äänen Lumo ry association is founded to support the field of electronic music and sound art.
  • MUU ry, led by Director Tapio Mäkelä, opens the MuuMediaBase work environment for digital art creators.
  • Erkki Huhtamo’s book Virtuaalisuuden arkeologia (translates as The Archeology of Virtuality) is published. Huhtamo writes several articles about virtual reality in the 1990s.
  • Uusi Kino, YLE’s short film programme, starts and over the years also shows experimental film and media art.


  • AV-arkki’s new vidéothèque presents Harri Larjosto’s retrospective Kiertokulkumysteerejä (translates as Cycle Mysteries) in the Helsinki city library’s Kirjakaapeli, located in Lasipalatsi.
  • Daisy’s Amazing Discoveries, directed by Mika Tuomola, is published at the Medi Lab of the University of Art and Design. This early internet work using multimedia is noticed around the world.
  • The galleri leena kuumola gallery opens and organizes experimental art exhibitions and film evenings until 2005.
  • Erkki Huhtamo’s Elävän kuvan arkeologia (translates as The Archeology of Live Image) programme series and the book based on it are published by YLE’s TV educational service.
  • The media art expert group established by the Ministry of Education and Culture produces Media art Memorandum – the situation and development proposals for Finnish media art. The memorandum calls for the recognition of media art in the arts administration and suggests 38 proposals for improving the status of the field in Finland.


  • Finnish online and new media artists at the Ars Electronica festival in Linz: Marita Liulia, Andy Best and Merja Puustinen and the net.sauna working group.
  • Tuomo Tammenpää’s Need is an artificial brand that imitates online marketing models. By the year 2000, the project grows from an online campaign to an installation with a trade fair stand and spin-off products.
  • The duo Pink Twins, founded by brothers Vesa and Juha Vehviläinen, combines visual art, electronic music and video art.
  • Diva, programmed at the Helsinki University of Technology, is the world’s first virtual band. It is invited to perform at ACM Siggraph in the United States. Professor Tapio Takala leads the concert dressed in a data dress coat.
  • Charm of Sound, a sound piece designed by Petri Kuljuntausta for the environment of the moon Titan, is launched with the European Space Agency’s Cassini / Huygens probe towards Saturn’s moon. The piece lands on Titan in 2005.
  • Jorma Ponkala’s Aurinkovene (translates as Sun Boat) and Koho (translates as Fishing Float), a floating apartment of the future designed by the Helsinki University of Technology use solar energy and are shown in Rauma Art Museum’s Solar Art exhibition. International guests include Tamiko Thiel with her video works and Richard Lerman, known for his piezo microphone recordings.
  • The first Äänen Lumo Festival takes place at the Old Student House and in the Electronic Hall of the Sibelius Academy.
  • The international Polar Circuit residency workshop organized by Tapio Mäkelä in Tornio produces material for the internet in cooperation with Pseudo Network internet radio.
  • As part of MUU ry’s 10th anniversary celebrations, the Digital drive in web project presents www and irc-based works.
  • Galleria Rajatila opens in Tampere and starts showing contemporary art and media art. Rajataide ry, an association founded by young art activists, is responsible for gallery operations.
  • Interface, the last part of Markku Eskelinen’s novel trilogy (Nonstop, 1988, Semtext, 1990), is published as a hypertext online in addition to the printed book.


  • Seppo and Markus Renvall’s work The Ball Show projects images onto mirrored disco balls, from which they disintegrate into the space in countless fragments. The work tours in Stockholm, the Venice Biennale, London and Paris.
  • Milla Moilanen’s animated film Wanted is based on archive material from the Department of Racial Biology at Uppsala University.
  • Merja Puustinen and Andy Best publish the online work Conversation with Angels, which allows users to chat with provocative bot characters.
  • Marikki Hakola’s telematic work TRIAD net dance connecting three continents.
  • The Alt Party Festival is held in Turku for the first time. The festival is continued in Helsinki 2000–2010 with demoscene and digital art in its program.
  • Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma opens. Media art curator Perttu Rastas is responsible for the regular showing of media art in the Kontti space of the museum and in major exhibitions. Soundbox, a collection of sound art curated by Petri Kuljuntausta, is launched online before the museum opens to the public. 
  • AVEK starts publishing the AVEK magazine, edited by Juha Samola, which becomes an important forum for the makers of short films and experimental AV productions and for industry discussions.
  • The katastro.fi organization is established for creators of digital art and the demoscene.
  • The Department of Music and Technology starts at the Sibelius Academy under the leadership of Andrew Bentley and Kalev Tiits.


  • Eija-Liisa Ahtila is awarded one of the main prizes of the 48th Venice Biennale for her work Consolation Service.
  • Linus Torvalds is given one of the most significant digital art awards, the Ars Electronica award, for the development of the Linux operating system. Torvalds released Linux in 1991.
  • The first part of Mauri Ylä-Kotola’s Media Science Questions book series Mitä on mediatiede? (translates as What is Media Science?) is published. Ylä-Kotola has been professor of Media Science at the University of Lapland since 1997.
  • First state award for media art: Andy Best and Merja Puustinen.

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