A two minute version (real running time 25min) : Youtube:Kristiina Helin/Still lIfe

The seeing sense is stronger than hearing sense and it’s but gaining strength. We simply need our sight more in the cities for surviving. Also the ear does not seem to learn to get pleasure the same way anymore and as a result, we start to demand visual stimulus in the places like classical music concert halls.  

My job is this ungrateful task of visualizing concerts. The traditional classical music audience does not want visualizations, since they still “have ears”. Nevertheless, to be precise, we often do look something when listening the concert, so why not look at something else, than the sock of the first violinist’s right foot.

Anyhow, not only do we not want to see visualizations, we don’t want to see a video!

Thus, the idea of “using the most up-to-date technology”, if understood like this: more video, more lights or maybe a feature film with virtual reality setting, must be examined closely.  Although I understand the urge to reach new audience with some imaginative way (as it happened at the time of Clenn Gould), the history can’t be repeated and I question, do we want to continue with this same direction and more than that, is “new technology” new? If we answer with doubt, we could think what kind of  “new” is interesting?

The technology develops, but the human senses remain the same. More than ever before, we seem to resist the speed of development,  we simply want to experience “the timeless”.
I argue, that we want and need live performances and we will have to take a step backwards towards more subtle visual effects to experience pleasure that is not mere entertainment and is in harmony with classical music. A live experience is radically different from virtual one.
Slowness and “pure” experiencing is the Zeitgeist of our time also within the young generation, it is clearly in the air.  We need to feel “the other” and want to be connected to “the living” the way it’s natural for our senses.  The movement of “matter” or “morphic fields” if you like, is still not fully known in hard science, and that is the most exiting research in technology today, for me.  In the live concert we are exposed to this “invisible and unknown”, we can feel it.

What I often see, is classical concert visualized with massive projections on the walls with no content. It violently catches the eye with moving lights and it’s placing the set design over music and being in competition with it. The images move at the same tempo with the first beat. This means the popular music visuals and stereo type storytelling enters to the classical concert halls and more money invested, the grater.

But these are only the birth aches of a new baby. We are witnessing the coming of a, how could one say, a renaissance art form in the field of classical concert music. It is a way to combine and mix different forms, and I want to think this is what you try to say, with “most up-to-date technology”. The thing is, we do not know what kind of a baby there is to be born. The visualizations are only taking the very first steps and mostly the concert halls are irretrievably behind with their technical equipment when thinking of visual arts.  But it is not the equipment, it’s the content that maters and maybe we don’t even want the fancy technology inside the halls. Perhaps the technology can help us in the creative process, focusing to the content not to the presentation.

We have already seen some beautiful and fulfilling visualizations and that is a thriving force. Usually visual artist of these pieces come from the conceptual art field, poetry or painting.

What I find most interesting, thinking about technical execution, is going back to the basics.  For example, instead of using movie screens, projecting to old-fashioned see-throw tulle material that has been used in the theaters for ages. The materials have developed with finesse, but the usage is the same. With tulle one can create a poetic atmosphere where the image is not violent but smooth and allows the eye to rest. The orchestra is also seen through the material, and therefore part of the image. Also we can make more intimate chamber music productions or semi staged productions in the concert halls where the audience is all around the stage, (oldest performance setting ever), and as we know, the round form creates closed field that focuses the energy, (it has been well tested in sports events).

Studying arts in Japan1995, I learned to play with time, moving from fast to slow, to go out form the everyday rhythm into meditative tempo not only in body movement but in the mind.  So, in my work as opera director, concert visualizer, choreographer, set-  and costume designer,  I reach towards a different direction altogether. Instead of trying to get to the virtual world, I try to establish myself and my work strongly in the natural reality and walk slowly backwards towards the consciousness and the reality that opens from there. This is much more difficult than putting on glasses of virtual reality when the image is hijacking the mind like a drug.

And not to be negative about technology, only, we have a saying in Finnish, you might throw the baby out with the bathwater, meaning the tool becomes more important than the actual object you are working with.


Creating a singular art piece in the concert situation with video and live music, that communicates strait with the consciousness because of manipulation of the time in the moving image. The slow movement bypasses the thinking mind and live music exposure stimulates the, shall we say, electricity in human body.  The simultaneous perception for the eye and ear is possible when the image itself does not look like a video per se, but, for example, a painting that moves in a speed just perceptible to the eye.

A live performance  with “Still life” -moving image installations, projected on transparent screen or many see-throw screens in different levels.

Building live 1700- century Still -live (Still leven or Nature Mort)  –installations (with fruit, flowers, cutlery and dead fish, hairs or birds) and taking photos of the metamorphosis with time-lapse technique. This means from 60.000 to 100.000 digital photos (one picture per minute) per 30 min film. Editing from the raw material a film, when the slow movement of the metamorphosis and decomposition becomes visible to human eyes. The films will be projected during a live performance.

A Still-life is defined as a set of inanimate objects arranged in a certain way. The magic of Still life’s is that they can show us a new way of looking at the objects around us and thus change our relationship with the world. Still life questions, not only the boundaries of the object, but also of man’s own body.

The objects chosen for the still life can tell about different cultures or present philosophical views. It can be religious-philosophical like the Vanitas still life’s or it can reflect social and cultural values. The Still life provokes the viewer to reflect on the notion of time. Through different settings, powerful emotions can also be expressed and they can lead a person to face the transcendence of life.

The message of Still life only intensifies when it is connected to a concert situation.  Once more, I feel that the slow metamorphosis of matter, as illustrated, moves in the same time-space dimension as invisible sound waves.



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