Date: 20.1—12.2.24
Institution: Sapporo International Art Festival
Location: Sapporo, JP

with: Jussi Ängeslevä


PINNANNOUSU is a participative robotic performance that embodies the aspirations and hopes we have of technology as a cause and savior of the challenges humanity is faced with. The artwork shapes ice blocks with robotic arm converting them to computational lenses that illuminate the exhibition cavern with legible message, that then melts over time, whilst being recorded in a timelapse.

The immersive robotic performance brings together computational design, natural material processes, the audience and an open ended, time-based process with all the schisms and rifts that the differing nature of these elements try to negotiate. Pinnannousu (Finnish word for “level elevation”) grapples with the individual existence in a macroscopic tectonic shift: A robotic arm, equipped with a drill bit and a flashlight, is set to work to carve a large block of clear ice, gradually converting it to a sculptural caustic lense, refracting the flashlight illumination to an immersive 3D scene projected on to the walls. The resulting play of light converges to a clear visual motif, seemingly impossible, calculated precision of natural and then drifting out of focus, over time slowly melting away, whilst the robotic arm switches between milling work and gestural dance-like performance. The process is captured with a time lapse camera, making the slow melting process equally perceivable as the loud, dynamic milling. The futility of “ingenuity” - carving a slowly melting block of ice to a computed ideal form that bends light into a desired visual motif, - is an arms race of the natural process and human intervention. The attempt to seize a form in an amorphous material, - is an apt metaphor of how we are today faced with global challenges as humanity. We can only make meaning at an individual level, yet we know that our collective actions influence all of us in a tangible way. Beyond moral judgement, the celebration of the resulting aesthetic, with its unstoppable transition, serves as a catalyst, to be simultaneously mesmerised, immersed and critically aware of the process.

Pinnannousu was initiated by media artist professor Jussi Ängeslevä, who has a long history of large, site specific artworks using digital fabrication, computational thinking combined with natural materials and processes. Inherently transdisciplinary, the artwork brought together an international team of experts. The work was further developed within the research project at ECAL a “Third Hand”–Creative Applications for Robotics" – initiated by AATB. They provided the foundation mill clear ice, as well as robotics knowledge. Through their involvement, spectacular, safe and precise ice milling robot was put together to ascertain the feasibility of the work.