The Nordic pioneers of New Media Art
By Björn Norberg and Jonatan Habib Engqvist
In order to contextualise the Nordic Media art scene historically one should perhaps begin in
the 1960´s. The spirit of entrepeneurship and geniune curiosty over the possiblities of
technology in experimental art prevailed and there was money to go around. Curators and
artists started to investigate the possibilities of technology along side with civil engineers.
Together these groups attempted to break down and reconfigure any established norms
concerning art by questioning old techniques, dissolving and reconstructing images.
There were a number of different groups, institutions and key figures in this development.
Many of them are still active and constantly gain new audiences and followers through the
younger generations, but even those organisations and collaborations which no longer exist
have through their activities in the 60's become a major source of inspiration for young new
media artists.
In the Begining, E.A.T.
One of the most influential key figures of the Nordic scene was the engineer Billy Klüver and
his Experiments in Art and Technology, E.A.T. There has been a renewed interest for this
work in the Nordic countries lately, partly due to intense discussions on the concept of artistic
Klüver (1924-2004) was born and raised in Sweden but moved to Paris in the1950's were he
first met Jean Tinguely (1925-1991). This would prove to be an important meeting.
Approximately ten years later they would meet again in New York and embark on a journey
into experimental art.
Klüver had a PhD from UCLA and was employed as an engineer at Bell Industries Bell lab in
New York. The director of Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Pontus Hultén, asked Klüver to
contact Tinguely and see if he needed some help technically since he was going to make a
large installation at the back yard of the MoMA. The result was the famous Hommage a New
York, a huge installation built out of bits of old chairs, bicycles and any kind of material
Klüver and Tinguely could find in the streets and in city dumps. During a performance night
the installation went down in clouds of smoke.
Later on Robert Rauschenberg asked Klüver for help with an installation called The Oracle,
now in the collections of Centre de Pompidu in Paris.
Klüver was not able to help with all the technology Rauschenberg required but together they
built up an interactive installation run via radio frequency.
Rumours spread and several artists would address Klüver with different project proposals.
Klüver started to engage his colleagues at Bell Labs at night and as the amount proposals
increased Klüver and some other artists decided to start a pool for artists and engineers -
Eventually the experiments performed within E.A.T. became an official activity of Bell Labs
and were magnified in the project 9 evenings where different artists were invited to make one
project each with the support of engineers from Bell Labs. Among these artists were of course
Robert Rauschenberg but also the Swedish artist Öyvind Fahlström (1928-1976) who made a
performance, or rather a theatrical play, including many different medias.
Fahlström was a pioneer within the Swedish sound art and poetry. He was early to realize the
power of mass media, especially television, and obviously used both paper and TV-shows to

market his actions, gaining a new and bigger audience. His piece for 9 evenings included
some complicated technological solutions. For example he asked for snow that fell upwards.
Fahlström became one of the most important artists within psychedelic art and pop art but has
been of less importance for the new media scene, except for his work within in the radio
where many Nordic artists still refer to his work. The work of Billy Klüver has however been
a major influence. Klüver also became a very important contact for the Moderna Museet in
Stockholm and it's director Pontus Hultén (1924-2006). Under his direction the museum
became one of the most dynamic Europian art institutions of the 1960's and the first important
contribution was the legendary exhibition Moving Art/Rörelse i konsten from 1961. With the
help from Klüver, Hultén and the museum invited a number of artists dealing with different
forms of kinetic art, including the work of Jean Tinguely. The exhibition and it's experimental
form had an enormous impact on the Nordic scene.
Tingueley would come back for another exhibition in 1966 together with Niki de St Phalle
and the Swedish artist P.O Ultvedt (b. 1927) who's practice could be described somewhere
near Duchamp (the roto reliefs) and Tinguely. Together with Hultén they started to plan what
to do, quiet close to the opening of the exhibition. Late in the process they decided to build up
a gigantic woman in the style of St Phalle in papier maché. Inside the 28x8 metre sculpture
they placed a multi-medial exhibition including a milk bar in the right breast and a
planetarium screening of the Milky Way in the left, a mechanical man watching TV in her
heart, in one of her arms a screening of a Greta Garbo movie and in one of her legs there was
a gallery with fake paintings of old masters. The audience entered the sculpture though her
sex. The installation, She, became a great success. Hultén would in 1968 curate the Machine
as seen at the end of the mechanical age” at MMA including pieces of f ex Nam June Paik
before he in 1973 became director of Centre de Pompidou in Paris.
Organising Freedom?
Looking back at the 70's and the 80's there seems to be a lack of greater initiatives within the
Nordic new media art. There is a generally a scepticism to computer art and it would take
until the late 80's until even video is widely accepted. Moderna Museet didn't play the same
important role as it did for the field in the 60's. The experiments and development took place
more among single artists and a few smaller groups who more or less belonged to the margin,
with a few exceptions, as will be described below. It would take until the mid 1990's and the
Internet boom for a larger movement of Nordic new media art when artists started to organise
themselves to share expensive equipment. Important examples are CRAC in Stockholm,
Atelier Nord in Oslo (which started in 1965 as a studio and workshop for graphic artists,
included video and digital studios in 1993 and works with new media exclusively from 1998),
BEK, Bergen Center For Electronic Arts in Norway, i/o/lab in Stavanger in Norway (who
organised the first Article festival for unstable art in November 2006) and Muu in Helsinki in
Finland. These organisations help artists with knowledge and equipment but also run various
projects and curate exhibitions.
In the 90´s there were also a number of organisations devoted to the production of art projects
and exhibitions apart from those already mentioned. In Sweden - Electrohype in Malmö
which produces the Electrohype biennale, Splintermind in Stockholm (shut down their
activites in 2005) produced exhibitions for museums and web TV, Motherboard in Norway,
PicelACHE in Finland; an annual festival for media art, focused on activism, open source,
demoscene and VJ:s run by Finnish media artist Juha Huuskonen, which is an
artist-run organisation formed in 1998 and M-Cult, established in 2000 mainly focused in
participatory, wireless and urban-based projects. M-Cult organised ISEA 2004.

To describe the history of Swedish new media there are a number of important independent
organisations that has to be mentioned. Apart from the Moderna Museet there were a couple
of other central points in Sweden. One was Fylkingen which started already in 1933 but then
as an association for classical music. In the 1950's it developed towards more experimental
music and produced the first Electro-acoustic concerts in Sweden in 1952. In the 1960's the
scene became more radical and also started up a studio around electro-acoustic music, EMS.
Both Fylkingen and EMS is still important scenes for the experimental art forms in Sweden.
One of the private galleries in Stockholm that soon became well known for a radical attitude
was Galleri Karlsson.
Its first exhibition was Ture Sjölanders ni är fotograferad (You are photographed) in 1964.
Sjölander (b. 1937) belongs to the very pioneers within new media and video art and already
in this first exhibition he understood the impact that television had on it's audience.
After a television show from the exhibition, Sjölander's photography contained a raw attitude
against photography and the naked model, 10.000 people visited the gallery. With this
experience he contacted the Swedish Television in 1965 for another show where he included
exhibitions in two cities, billboard advertisement in a third and a TV-production. It was meant
to be a large multimedia happening but the state television refused to broadcast his production
since they found it too provocative. Instead he was offered to make another TV-production
where he collaborated with the artist Bror Wikström. Sjölander had according to himself
already as a teenager experimented with distortions on television screens and along with the
engineers at the Swedish television the artists could perform wild experiments in a piece that
was given the title
TIME. They were nott able to work directly with the video signal so they
had to transfer the monitor to film and then back on video to create the effects.
In 1966 Sjölander started to collaborate with the journalist Lars Weck in a project called
MONUMENT where they worked with television in Sweden, Germany and France. The result
was broadcast in USA along with several countries in Asia and Europé. It was seen by an
estimated audience of c:a 150.000.000 viewers and is described in Expanded Cinema by Gene
Sjölander and Weck used images of famous paintings and celebrities such as the King of
Sweden, the Beatles,
Charlie Chaplin, Picasso, Mona Lisa and distorted them so they where
hardly recognizable. Stills from the film were then transferred to papers, magazines posters,
textiles and paintings by the Swedish artist Sven Inge de Monér and a record with the
soundtrack by the Swedish group Hansson & Karlsson was released. All together it became an
enormous project, in line with the ideas of the multi-medial project Sjölander had been
working on before. Sjölander is still active as a painter, conceptual and web artist.
Teresa Wennberg (b. 1944) had a very different attitude to the computer compared to other
pioneers since she at an early stage stressed that the computer had an artistic expression in
itself, discussing computer graphics as 'objects'. She left Sweden for Paris in 1974 where she
found a different attitude to technology than at home.
Around 1978 she started to work with video and came in to contact with Ture Sjölander and
they started the Video Now (Video Nu) association in Sweden which was important for the
development of video art in Sweden. In 1983 she started to work with digital images and since
1998 she has been working as artist in residence at the Royal University College of

Technology, KTH in Stockholm and their VR-Cube environment. She is however probably
more well known outside of Sweden.
In 1996 the Swedish artists Karin Hansson (b. 1967) and Åsa Andersson-Broms started the
organisation Temporart Art [A:t] with a first net art exhibition with 20 Danish and Swedish
artists. Three years later they organised the exhibition Best Before at Tensta art gallery that
had a great impact on the Swedish scene. Among the artists in the exhibition one could find
Ola Pehrson, (1964-2006).
Ola Pehrson participated with his piece Yucca Invest Trading Plant where a yucca palm was
connected to a computer via electrodes. The impulses the palmtree gave to the Internet
connected computer resulted in trade on the Swedish stock market. In this piece he linked the
market to the nature in a very intelligent way - not only through the installations but also with
market terms such as growth and off shots. A year later he created the NASDAQ vocal index
which was a choir piece for 8 to 24 different singers where each singer represented one
company stock on NASDAQ receiving “notes” in real-time according to the currents
downloaded from the stock market. Pehrson also did some collaborations with the Interactive
Institute in Stockholm, a huge research institute with several departments for technology
The SMART studio (which changed name to simply Art & Technology in 2006) is maybe
most famous for their Brainball installation. It was created by a team of artists and engineers,
among them Arijana Kajfes and Thomas Broomé (b. 1971). The game is played by two
persons sitting on each side of a table and wearing sensors measuring the brain activity. The
point is to get as low activity as possible. If you reach a lower activity than your opponent a
ball will start to roll forward. The game is over when the ball reaches one of the short ends of
the table.
Arijana Kajfes was artist in residence at the Interactive Institute and during the time she
worked with her Occular Witness project where she made a research on aspects of light seen
from a physicist’s point of view. The project received an honorary mention at Ars Electronica
in 2006 along with another Swedish project, SOBJECT by Italian born Alberto Frigo (b.1979)
now living in Stockholm. For three years he has been photographed every object he has used
with his right hand. The result can be seen as investigation of his relation to objects and a
large database of over 100.000 images so far.
Another method for documenting ones life can be found in Mikael Lundberg (b. 1952). In
Lifeline he tracked his movements using a GPS device for one and a half year (2004 and
2005). Ten years earlier he had his remaining life time calculated and created Lifetimer a
digital clock that counted down the estimated time in seconds.
Although she is of Swedish origin Lisa Jevbratt (b. 1967) might be better known outside
Sweden. She moved to USA in 1994 and started to work with e-mail art in her project Hej
Gud (Hi God). A year later she started to work with web-pieces. She should definitely be
regarded as one of the early pioneers even if she didn’t belong to a net-art group. She still
lives in the USA,. She is employed as Associate Professor at the University of California and
a member of the artists group C5. She often produces web-based work with a typical 'meta-
web' touch. For example, in 1:1 from 1999 she created a database that used a webcrawler to
collect all URL:s in the world. She soon discovered that the web was growing faster than the
In Infome Imager Jevbratt used a crawler to collect different information about web sites such
as their length, when they were made, which network they belong to and what colours were

used. This information was then selected by a computer and images functioning as statistical
diagrams found were created.
Recently Jevbratt had a piece, Rösten (The Voice) commissioned from the Swedish National
Public Art Council which might be the first commissioned web piece in Sweden. Here she
displays all keywords typed in the internal search engine of the councils website. The words
are displayed in chronological order and are shortcuts to relevant information belonging to the
One of the founders of CRAC is the Swedish artist Peter Hagdahl (b. 1956), currently
professor in media art at the Royal University College of Fine Arts in Stockholm. Peter has
for a long time been focused on the complexity of actions and interactions in society between
people and technology and in different virtual spaces. His public project created for the
University College for Teachers in Stockholm, Dream Generator, consists of several sensors
placed in the university. The sensors pick up the activity inside the school and the information
generated is used as data input for a 3D-animation which starts to move according to the data.
Hagdahl has influenced the Nordic scene intellectually and practically, as the initiatial force
behind CRAC, the new media laboratory Mejan Labs (in 2006) and as a professor at the
In the 1990’s Hagdahl made a number of collaborations with Carl-Michael von Hausswolff
(b. 1956) who not only is one of the most important names of Swedish sound art. but also a
visual artist of importance. He has in a number of installations been working with radar
equipment and oscilloscopes to describe reality through these technologies.
In his composing he has been working with everything from tape recorders, DAT and radio
frequencies to more updated technologies such as samplers and lap tops in order to create
noise compositions. C-M von Hausswolff was given an honorary mention in the Digital
Music category at Ars Electronica 2002.
Another important pioneer of new media and video from the Nordic countries is of course
Steina Vasulka, born in 1940 in Reykjavik in Iceland. In the 1950's she came to Prague to
study violin where she met the Czech engineer and filmmaker Wooody Vasulka. In 1965 they
moved to New York where Woody started to work in the film industry and Steina free-lanced
as musician. Woody had started to make experiments with electronic images and sound and
brought some of the equipment he was working with within the company home and Woody
and Steina started to experiment with video technology.
For Woody the video technology offered a way to question narratives and he was amazed by
the possibilities of video feedback. Together and probably thanks to Steina's background as a
musician, they also started to connect audio inputs to the video in order to create different
They realized that both the audio and the video signal consisted of waveforms and that these
could be exchanged, in turn generating interesting results that could be processed to a
complete piece.
In 1971 they started the Kitchen which became a home for experimental video, music and
performance projects and discussions. From working closely with Woody during the 1960's
Steina started focus on her own work in the 1970's. Her All Vision and Machine Vision series
are today considered as milestones within the new media art. She started to separate the
videocamera from the human view in different installations. She used a mirrored sphere
placed on a crossbow and at the end of the crossbow there were two cameras, one in each end.
As they were filming a spherical mirror they could project their entire surrounding space,

360°. She also started to experiment with the violin run through an audio synthesizer in order
to affect video signals in her project Violin Power.
In the middle of the 1970’s the Vasulkas started to collaborate with programmers which lead
to development of digital tools such as Digital Image Articulator/Imager, used in several
pieces from the 1980's. Steina would in the mid 1990's work as artistic director at STEIM in
Amsterdam where she together with Tom Demeyer developed one of the first VJ soft wares,
the Image/ine.
Steinas pioneering work is of great importance for the development and understanding of both
video and new media art and has inspired many artists. Both her and Sjölanders art was for
example great sources for the Swedish artist group Beeoff when they, in 1996 started to
experiment with analogue and digital video in combination with Internet streaming. This
resulted in the nonTVTVstation project and the streaming organisation Splintermind that
includes a network of a large number of artists, galleries, museums and organisations all over
the world. Participating in ISEA 2004 and the Parisian La Numèrique festival at La Villette
science parc the same year.
In Iceland Steina has few followers and there are quiet few new media related artists. Some of
them, such as net artists Paul Thayer and Ragnar Helgi Olafsson (b.1971) have organised
themselves in an association called Lorna. Olafsson is famous for his piece Web waste where
the web visitor is invited to upload his/her computer trash bin to Olafsson’s piece. The waste
is exposed as it is in a mess of text, images and sound. Olafsson has also worked with
interactive video installations. Another Icelandic artist Finnbogi Petursson (b. 1959) has
received great attention for his sound art installation that all of them connect to the
minimalism of the 1960's. For the Venice Biennale in 2001 he created the installation
Diabolus where he used the interval between two tones that the Vatican church banned in the
middle ages. The interval is called 'dialolus in musica' but the reason why it was banned isn’t
necessary because that it was expected to call forth the devil. Some music historian think that
it just was thought to be a very unnatural combination of tones. In Diabolus Petursson built up
a small building, narrow as a corridor, where he had to sound sources. One was a speaker with
a 61,8 hz tone and the other an organ pipe driven with a 44,7 hz. The two tones represented
the diabolic interval but also created not hearable 17hz sound wave, an effect he also uses in
installations as Dream and Sphere where the very low frequencies affect a water surface. The
minimalism he has in common with the Danish artist Jeppe Hein (b.1974) who in his
installation Invisble Labyrinth created labyrinths where the walls was just infrared light. With
a special headset you felt the walls as vibrations if you walked into them. The form of the
maze changed from day to day and had famous patterns such as PacMan or the labyrinth
outside the hotel in Kubrick's film The Shining. In 2002 Hein smashed the white cube of a
gallery with a ball of metal with the diameter of 70 cm. The ball was moving in the empty
space, activated by a sensor and the appearance of the visitor, crashing into the walls, corners
and heaters of the gallery.
The Danish artist Mogens Jacobsen, b. 1959, has in some studies on time and dynamics in
video reached results that reminds of Steina Vasulka’s work. Lately he has been working with
an own software that allows him to regard the video as a 3D object in a space more than a
chronological sequence of frames. Jacobsen belongs to the first generation of artist that
understood the possibilities of the computers, to make art with the computer exclusively
without the need to make a print or to transfer it to a stable media to get an artistic result.
Of course this is thanks to their chance to work with computers powerful enough but also it
belongs to a shift intellectually where they saw that computers had a value in themselves and
didn’t have to be transferred to traditional techniques. This can f ex be compared to digital
pioneers such as the Swedish artist duo Beck & Jung, Sture Johannesson, Ann-Charlotte
Johannesson, Kars-Gunnar Bodin, Sven Inge de Monér and Torsten Ridell who used
computers to design images that were then transferred to graphic prints or painting. One odd
example worth to mention is Göran Sundqvist (b. 1937) who was computer engineer at SAAB
in Sweden and was from 1958 working with the development of pioneering computers as
SAAB D2, D21 and D22. Those were the first transistor based computers in Sweden. He
came in contact with composers at Fylkingen in Stockholm and for fun and for demos of the
machine he let it compute some music pieces. He also programmed a few games on it and
made some digital images, but they had to be photographed to be preserved since he used an
oscilloscope as a monitor and of course had no print options.
Mogens Jacobsen didn’t experience the same attitude problems as Wennberg even if the
computers of late 80's or early 90's definitively had their limits. For three years in a row,
from 1993 to 1995 he received an honorary mention at Ars Electronica. The first two years in
the category computer graphics and in 1995 in the category interactive art where he with the
installation The Entropy Machine finally managed to free the computer from the traditional art
He had by then gone through a process where he looked for a possibility to use the computer
in a way that wasn’t just a substitute for 'the pen, the brush and spraycans' since he had seen
it’s possibilities with interactive communication, advanced information processing and
With The Entropy Machine he worked with the ideas of cloning, hormone therapy, DNA etc.
that emerged during the biotechnological revolution of the 1980's and lead to many different
applications during the 1990’s. This installation consisted of five framed images and a metal
box with sides of fabric. There was a monitor inside the box surrounded by petridiscs
containing cultivations of bacteria. The box functioned as a “information greenhouse”
together with a computer that chose among 40-50 different images that were screened on the
monitor. A cellular automata algorithm changed the image on the monitor through every
generation it passed. After a while it started up with a new image and algorithm chosen
according to the temperature inside the box. Since the temperature was crucial for the growth
of the bacteria it had a double function, it stimulated both the cultivations and the digital
The same year Jacobsen was involved in the founding of the Danish organisation Artnode
which has since then been an important node for new media activities in Denmark. It
functions as a intellectual resource with articles, as a producer of exhibitions and net art and
as an archive and gallery for net art.
This is remarkable early - the same year as äda’web started and one year before Rhizome.
Danish Artnode is still very active and should not be confused with the Swedish organisation
with the same name.
In Denmark two artists groups have developed very large projects that mix activist thinking,
business strategies, design and technology. Superflex is maybe a more 'relational' art group
but their project Karlskrona2 from 1999 showed early on the possibilities virtual
environments can offer. They built a virtual copy of the Swedish city Karlskrona and the
inhabitants in the real city could create avatars to inhibit the virtual city. As avatars they were
able to change the city and rebuild it. The project showed on how virtual space could be used
as a democratic tool in city planning and how it could be used to catch up ideas from the
inhabitants of a city.
N55 is a Copenhagen based artists group that started with an aim to rebuild the city from the
within and are working with different activist projects that merges technology, design and
architecture. In 2000 they created FLOATING PLATFORM and N55 SPACEFRAME which
together functioned as a working space and home for the artists group. They have created
alternative architecture for mobile and compact living but also created ROCKET SYSTEM
which is a rocket that can spread flyers from an altitude of 5200 metres.
Norwegian artist Stahl Stenslie (b. 1965) became the father of cyberex after his Cyber SM
project in 1993. The project was aimed at creating a system for real-time, visual, sonic and
tactile communication over telephone lines. Stenslie created two 'stimulator suits' that two
people could use to physically touch each other over distance. In 1993 he used the suits to
connect users in Paris and Cologne.
HC Gilje (b. 1969) has been devoted to real-time video processing for many years. He started
with Steina and Demeyer’s Image/ine and later went on to MAX. Working with these tools he
points out that he can work in real-time but still have full control over both structure and
context. He tries to focus on perception and conception of reality using the technology. In
1999 he started to investigate live aspects of video with music, dance and theatre as references
since these art- forms had a history of improvisation and real-time. He has since been working
on his own and in the VJ group 242.pilots and as a part of the Norwegian dance company
The Finnish new media scene woke up very late and it wasn’t really until the 1980's when the
first video piece was made. It was by Marikki Hakola (b. 1960) and the Turppi-group -
Earth Contacts from 1982. But new media was not really established in Finland until the mid
1990's. There was however one early and important figure on the Finnish scene: Erkki
Kurenniemi (b. 1941)
Kurenniemi isn’t only a true pioneer of the Finnish scene but belongs to the pioneers of the
global new media. Already in the 1960's he composed computer-generated music and
designed his own synthesizer -the Andromatic (1968), purchased by the Swedish composer
Ralph Lundsten. Since then Kurenniemi moved between art and science, music, film,
computers and robotics. Around 1970 he worked with a number of original synthesizers in the
DIMI (Digital Music Instrument) series. In 1971 he collaborated with dancers around his
DIMI-O, a type of video synthesizer which used the motions of the dancers to generate a real-
time soundtrack. Other DIMI:s were DIMI-A which was played by using “electric pens”, the
DIMI-S which was played by four people touching each other and the DIMI-T that generated
sounds by measuring the brain activity of the player. Kurenniemi has since then been working
with Artificial Intelligence the aim to merge man and machine.
When video became established in the 1980's a number of video artists entered the scene.
Among them of course Eija-Liisa Ahtila (b. 1959) who has established herself as a major

international video artist. Marita Liulia (b. 1957) was the first Nordic artist to work with CD-
ROM and received an honorary mention at Ars Electronica with Maire from 1994. She also
had a great success with her piece Ambitiuos Bitch from 1996 where she investigated
femininity. This piece was followed by Son of a Bitch (1999) where she worked with
masculinity in the end of the millennium. She created a virtual apartment of the psychoanalyst
Jack L. Froid in Quicktime VR where one is guided game by the virtual butler Esco through a
milieu that works in a similar fashion to an epical computer. Froid who is an expert on
masculinity has left the apartment empty for our investigation of the ideas of the modern man.
New media art is now well established within the Finnish art. None the least thanks to a
number of small and vivid organisations and festivals such as the artist group, the
mew media festival PixelACHE, artist run organisation MUU, M-Cult (who produced ISEA
2004) and AVANTO festival but also thanks to the contemporary art museum Kiasma who
has organised a number of important exhibition and bought several pieces to their collection
and who had a media curator when they were established in 1998. Around them a number of
young artists have developed their practice.
The British born artist Charles Sandison (b. 1969) moved to Tampere in Finland in the mid
1990’s. He has described himself as a writer born in an artist’s body and creates digitally
generated installations that combine the possibility of computers with concrete poetry. For
Living Room from 2001 he wrote a soft ware that simulates human behaviour using Artificial
Intelligence. Using computers and projections he fills a space with words moving, living and
reproducing. They move around, interact with the room and chase or avoid each other, and if
they meet they meet they either eliminate each other or create new words.
He uses a few words, each with a special behaviour: MALE (they are hunting for FOOD),
FEMALE (avoids MALE until they have eaten FOOD), MALE hut FEMALE to reproduce,
FATHER replaces FOOD. When the population has grown to big a deadly VIRUS is spread
and all words will die when they have reached a certain age. In a similar installation, Good &
Evil, from 2002 he uses only two words, GOOD and EVIL. Both of them try to expand on the
expense of the other. When they collide one of them disappears.
Summarizing the Nordic new media art scene and starting with the 1960's it is obvious that
the important development takes place among artist collaborations with a great exception for
the dynamic first period of Moderna Museet under the direction of Pontus Hultén, and
perhaps Kiasma in Helsinki when it opened in 1998. Artists have gathered together sharing
expensive equipment around common ideas generated by new technology and certain
movements in the society in general. One example is what happened around the Internet boom
in the mid 1990's. Also some large companies, where artists had a chance to experiment with
new technology have played an important role. Examples are f ex SAAB and the Swedish
state television in the 1960's. Hopefully this survey of the Nordic new media art can show on
some characteristics that can be compared to the global scene in general. The latest decades of
great exchange with the international scene has of course meant that the Nordic art scene
might have lost a Nordic identity, if there ever was one. However looking at the history some
of the artists mentioned above must be seen as really pioneers, even in an international
perspective, and deserves to be a part of the international new media canon.

 Expanded Cinema by Gene Youngblood
Jud Yalkut: Paikpieces
Recognized as one of the leading intermedia artists and filmmakers
in the United States, Jud Yalkut has collaborated with Nam
June Paik since 1966 in a series of films that incorporate Paik's
television pieces as basic image material. Yalkut's work differs from
most videographic cinema because the original material is videotape,
not film. They might be considered filmed TV; yet in each case
the video material is selected, edited, and prepared specifically for
filming, and a great deal of cinematic post-stylization is done after
the videographics have been recorded.
In addition to Paik's own slightly demonic sense of humor, the films
are imbued with Yalkut's subtle kinaesthetic sensibility, an ultra-
sensitive manipulation of formal elements in space and time. Paik’s
Videographic Cinema 329

Jud Yalkut: Paikpieces. (Left column)
Beatles Electroniques. 1967. VTR/
16mm. film. Black and white. 3 min.
(Right column) Videotape Study No. 3.
1968. VTR/16mm. film. Black and white.
5 min.
330 Expanded Cinema
electro-madness combined with Yalkut's delicate kinetic consciousess
result in a filmic experience balanced between video and cinema
in a Third World reality.
The two films illustrated here— Beatles Electroniques and
Videotape Study No. 3— are part of a forty-five-minute program of
films by Yalkut and Paik, concerning various aspects of Paik's activities.
The other films include P+A-I=(K), a three-part homage to the
Korean artist, featuring his concert Happening performances with
Charlotte Moorman, Kosugi, and Wolf Vostell; his robot K-456
walking on Canal Street in New York; and his color television abstractions.
Other films in the Paikpieces program are Cinema
Metaphysique, a nontelevision film in which the screen is divided in
various ways: the image appears on a thin band on the left side, or
along the bottom edge, or split-screen and quarter-screen; and two
other films of Paik's video distortions, Electronic Yoga and Electronic
Moon, shown at various intermedia performances with Paik and Miss
Beatles Electroniques was shot in black-and-white from live broadcasts
of the Beatles while Paik electromagnetically improvised distortions
on the receiver, and also from videotaped material produced
during a series of experiments with filming off the monitor of a Sony
videotape recorder. The film is three minutes long and is accompanied
by an electronic sound track by composer Ken Werner,
called Four Loops, derived from four electronically altered loops of
Beatles sound material. The result is an eerie portrait of the Beatles
not as pop stars but rather as entities that exist solely in the world of
electronic media.

Videographic Cinema 331
Ture Sjölander, Lars Weck, Sven Höglund* :
Video Monument in Sweden
In the fall of 1967, intermedia artists Ture Sjölander and Lars Weck
collaborated with Bengt Modin, video engineer of the Swedish
Broadcasting Corporation in Stockholm, to produce an experimental
program called Monument. It was broadcast in January, 1968, and
subsequently has been seen throughout Europe, Asia, and the
United States. Apart from the technical aspect of the project, their
intention was to develop a widened consciousness of the communicative
process inherent in visual images. They selected as source
material the "monuments" of world culture— images of famous
persons and paintings.
The program was created in the form of a black-and-white
videographic film, made with the telecine projector from other film
clippings and slides. The films and slides first were recorded on
videotape and then back onto film for further processing. Image
distortions occurred in the telecine process of recording film on
videotape. The basic principle involved was the modulation of the
deflection voltage in a flying-spot telecine, using sine and square
impulses from a wave-form generator. With the flying-spot method
used by Swedish television, the photographic image is transformed
into electrical signals when the film is projected toward a photocell
with a scanned raster as the source of light. The deflection voltage
regulates the movement of the point of light that scans the screen
fifty times per second.
In the production of Monument, the frequency and amplitude of the
flying-spot deflection was controlled by applying tones from the
wave-form generators. Thus image distortions occurred during the
actual process of transforming original image material into video
signals, since the scan that produces the signals was electromagnetically
altered. In principle this process is similar to methods
used by Nam June Paik and others, except that the Swedish group
applied the techniques at an early stage in the video process, before
signal or videotape information existed.
After the videotape was completed from various film clips, a
kinescope was made, which was edited by Sjölander and Weck into
its final form. The result is an oddly beautiful collection of image
332 Expanded Cinema
The King of Sweden as
seen in videographic
film Monument (1967),
by Ture Sjölander and
Lars Weck.
Videographic Cinema 333

Paul McCartney in Monument.
sequences unlike any other video art. We see the Beatles, Charlie
Chaplin, Picasso, the Mona Lisa, the King of Sweden, and other
famous figures distorted with a kind of insane electronic disease.
Images undergo transformations at first subtle, like respiration, then
increasingly violent until little remains of the original icon. In this
process, the images pass through thousands of stages of
semicohesion, making the viewer constantly aware of his orientation
to the picture. The transformations occur slowly and with great
speed, erasing perspectives, crossing psychological barriers. A
figure might stretch like Silly Putty or become rippled in a liquid
universe. Harsh bas-relief effects accentuate physical dimensions
with great subtlety, so that one eye or one ear might appear slightly
unnatural. And finally the image disintegrates into a constellation of
shimmering video phosphors.
More than an experiment in image-making technologies,
Monument became an experiment in communication. Monument
became an image-generator: newspapers, magazines, posters,
334 Expanded Cinema
record albums, and even textile factories began using images from
the videographic film. Sven Höglund, a well-known Swedish painter,
entered the project after the film was completed*. He made oil
paintings based on the Monument images because he found them
"parallel to my own creative intentions; I had for a long time been
working on problems concerning transformations of forms. My
painted versions of the images became another phase of the
experiment in communication called Monument.
"Other phases were silk-screen prints, illustrated magazine
articles, posters, giant advertisements. In each phase Monument
experiments with pictures in their relation to spectators. The
common denominator is the mass-media picture, especially the most
commonly seen pictorial representation, the television picture. The
pictures in the film are so well known to the public that they have
been invested with symbolic meaning. People recognize them and
are able to retain this identification throughout all the transformations
and variations of the electronic image."
Published nov. 2006.

The Artist that invented Computer Animation

Aapo Saask on the artist
Ture Sjolander

On an island aptly named Magnetic Island off the coast of Australia, a Swedish artist lives in exile. Just like so many others in today's media-landscape, he was first praised and then brought to dust. However, he has left a lasting imprint on the world. As early as the 1960's, he made the first electronic animation. Had he been an inventor, he would have been celebrated as a genius today, but because he is a predecessor in the world of art, things are different. In that world, the great ones often have to die before they are recognized.

We all know how Disney's famous cartoons were made: thousands of drawings, filmed in sequence. Even today some films are made this way. However, electronic animation has opened up a new world within the film industry and it has also made computer games and countless graphic solutions possible in business and science.

Pixar, which used to be part of Lucasfilm and then sold to Steve Jobs in the lat 1980's, made the first completely computer animated film called "Andre and Wally B" in 1983. The first feature length fully animated movie was Toy Story from 1995. It was made by Pixar and distributed by Disney. Disney had already started to use computer animation in Little Mermaid from 1989, and then on through Aladdin, Lion King, Pocahontas, etc In those fantastic movies the pictures were however first drawn on paper and then scanned into computers for painting and cleanup and superimposition over painted backgrounds.

Decades earlier, in 1965, Ture Sjolander’s electronically manipulated images were broadcasted by the Swedish Television (SVT). Among other things, Ture Sjolander was experimenting with the question of how much the portrait of a person could be changed before it was unrecognizable, something which has pioneered the amazing morph-technique that is used today.

Gene Youngblood, who, alongside with Marshall McLuchan, is the most celebrated media-philosopher of today, devoted a whole chapter in his book Expanded Cinema, 1970, (Pre face by Buckminster-Fuller) to the experiments of the SVT. Expanded cinema means transgression of conventions as well as mind-expanding transgressions and new definitions. Sjolander’s broadcasts were not technically sophisticated, but they were ground-breaking.

The film mentioned by Youngblood  is "Monument" (1968) by Ture Sjolander and Lars Weck. The other earlier televised pioneering animation were "TIME" (1965/66) by Ture Sjolander and Bror Wikstrom, and later "Space in the Brain" (1969) by Ture Sjolander, Bror Wikstrom, Sven Hoglund and Lasse Svanberg. Whereas most of the modern-day artists fade into oblivion, Ture Sjolander has found his place in the art history by the making of those films.

Ture, a lad from the northern city of Sundsvall, had instant success with his opening exhibition at the Sundsvalls Museum 1961. He moved to Stockholm in the beginning of the 1960's. At an exhibition in 1964 at Karlsson Gallery his imagery upset the public so much that the gallery immediately became the trendiest place for young artists in Stockholm.

In 1968, he created another scandal, when the film "Monument" was televised in most European countries.
For a couple of years, Ture Sjolander was celebrated in France, Italy, Switzerland, Great Britain and the USA.

In Sweden there was a lot of jealousy. The Museum of Modern Art and the National Gallery of Sweden, to name a few, bought his works, but the techniques he worked with were expensive and after a few years, he found himself without resources. Instead he started to work with celebrities such as Charlie Chaplin and Greta Garbo. They taught him that exile – mental and physical - is the only way to escape destruction for a creative genius. He moved to Australia.

Ture Sjolander's works include photos, films, books, articles, textiles, tv-programs, video-installations, happenings, sculptures and paintings – all scattered around the Globe. Tracing will be a challenging and exciting task for a future detective/biographer and web-archaeologist's.

But mostly, his work consists of a life of questioning and creation. This is what sets him aside as one of the great artists of the 20th century.

Another forerunner in the art world, the internationally celebrated Swedish composer Ralph Lundsten, says in an interview in the magazine SEX, 5, 2004: "In those days (the 19th century), a painting could create a revolution. Today people look idly at all the thousands of exhibitions that there are.’ Hmm. Oh, really. How clever he is’, and they yawn… If I were a visual artist, and if my ambition was to create something new, I would devote myself to the possibilities of the computer."

In 1974, Sherman Price of Rutt Electrophysics, wrote to the Swedish Television Company (SVT): "Video Synthesis is becoming a prominent technique in TV production here in the United States, and I think it will be interesting to give credit to your broadcasting system and personnel for achieving this historic invention."

He was referring to Ture Sjolander's revolutionary work in the 1960's. No one at the SVT could at that time imagine the importance that this innovation would have for television, and hereby lost a lead position in the computer-development business.

Amongst the younger generation of computer animators, few know that they have a Swedish predecessor.
Many engineers were probably working away in their cellars in those days, trying to do the same thing, but Sjolander was the first person to show his results on the air. If any of you would like to have a look at the Godfather of animation, you can find a glimpse of him by googling.

He did not seek to patent his inventions and he has made no money from it. However, he has made it to the history books as one of the great precursors of art - and perhaps also of technology - of the 20th century.

For the past decades, Ture Sjolander has mostly lived in Australia, but he has also worked in other countries, such as Papua New Guinea and China.

After a couple of decades of silence, Sjolander's groundbreaking work was shown at Fylkingen, the avant guard media and music hide out in Stockholm in the spring of 2004.

In the autumn of 2004, some of his recent acrylic paintings on canvas were exhibited at the Gallery Svenshog outside of Lund, Sweden. This was to commemorate the forty years that have gone by since his last (scandalous) exhibition at Lunds Konsthall. Many artists take a pleasure in provoking the established art world. Ture Sjolander also provokes the rest of the world.


Ture Sjölander

"the origins of video art"  pages: 116, 117, 118 and 181, 182  and 183.
by Chris Meigh-Andrews
During the period between 1965 and 1975, which could be considered as the defining period of video art, there was significant research activity amongst artists working with video to develop, modify or invent video imaging instruments or synthesizers.
The first generation of video artist/engineers include Ture Sjolander, Bror Wikstrom, Lars Weck, Eric Seigel, Stephen Beck, Dan Sandin, Steve Rutt, and Bill and Louise Etra, in addition to the well-documented collaborative work of Nam June Paik and Shuya Abe.
The work of these pioneers is important because, in addition to exploring the potential of video as a means of creative expression, they developed a range of relatively accessible and inexpensive image manipulation devices specifically for 'alternative' video practice.
In September  1966  Swedish artists Ture Sjolander ( 1937-, Sweden) and Bror Wikstrom broadcast Time, a 30-minute transmission of electronically manipulated paintings on National Swedish Television. Sjolander and Wikstrom had worked with TV broadcast engineer Bengt Modin to construct a temporary video image synthesizer which was used to distort and transform video line-scan rasters by applying tones from waveform generators. The basic process involved applying electronic distortions during the process of transfer of photographic transparencies and film clips. According to Modin they introduced the electronic transformations using two approaches. The geometric  distortion of the scanning raster of the video signal by feeding various waveforms to the scanning coil, and video distortion by the application of various electronic filters to the luminance signal.
Sjolander had begun working with broadcast television with the production of his first multimedia experiment The Role of Photography, commissioned by the National Swedish Television in 1964, which was broadcast the following year. With the broadcasting of Time, his second project for Swedish television, Sjolander was well aware of the significance of his work and importance of the artistic statement he was making:
Time is the very first video art work televised at that point in time for the reason to produce an historical record as well as an evidence of original visual free art, made with the electronic medium - manipulation of the electronic signal - and exhibited/installed through the television, televised.
In 1967, Sjolander teamed up with Lars Weck and, using a similar technological process, produced Monument, a programme of electronically manipulated monochrome images of famous people and cultural icons including the Mona Lisa, Charlie Chaplin, the Beatles, Adolf Hitler and Pablo Picasso. (Separate text of this work as below)
This programme was broadcast to a potential audience of over 150 million people in France, Italy Sweden, Germany and Switzerland in 1968, as well later in the USA. Subsequently, Sjolander produced a Space in the Brain (1969) based on images provided by NASA, extending his pioneering electronic imaging television work to include the manipulation and distortion of colour video imagery. A Space in the Brain was an attempt to deal with notions of space, both the inner worldof the brain and the new televisual space created by electronic imaging.
Sjolander, originally a painter and photographer, had become increasingly dissatisfied with conventional representation as a language of communication and began experimenting  with the manipulation of photographic images using graphic and chemical means. For Sjolander, broadcast television represented  truly contemporary communication medium that should be adopted as soon as possible by artists - a fluid transformation and constant stream of ideas within the reach of millions.
The televised electronic images Sjolander and his collaborators produced with Time, Monument and Space in the Brain were further extended via other means. The television system was exploited as a generator of imagery for further distribution processes including silkscreen printing, posters, record covers, books and paintings that were widely distributed and reproduced, although ironically signed and numbered as if in limited editions.
It seems likely that these pioneering broadcast experiments were  influential on the subsequent  work of Nam June Paik and others. According to Ture Sjolander, Paik visited Stockholm in the summer of 1966 and was shown still images from Time while on a visit to the Elektron Musik Studion (EMS). Additionally, Sjolander is in possession of a copy of a letter dated 12 March 1974 from Sherman Price of Rutt Electrophysics in New York, acknowledging the significance of Monument to the history of 'video animation', and requesting detailed information about the circuitry employed to obtain the manipulated imagery. In reply, Bengt Modin, the engineer who had worked with Sjolander, provided Price with a circuit diagram and an explanation of their technical approach to the project, claiming he 'no longer knew the whereabouts of the artists involved'.
The Paik-Abe Synthesizer, built in 1969 is one of the earliest examples of a self-contained video image-processing device. As we have seen, Ture Sjolander and his collaborators had brought together video processing technology in temporary configuration to produce their early broadcast experiments, Paik's synthesizer was a self-contained unit built expressly and exclusively for the purpose. The instrument, or video synthesizer, as it came to be known, enabled the artist to add colour to a monochrome video image, and to distort the conventional TV camera image.  -.......
Extending a dialogue that they had begun in Tokyo in 1964, electronic engineer Shuya Abe and Nam June Paik began building a video synthesizer in 1969 at WGBH-TV in Boston, possibly spurred on by the work of Sjolander in Sweden.
from Chris Meigh-Andrews book,
A HISTORY OF VIDEO ART, Publisher BERG, Oxford-New York. First Edition October 2006
representative video art works
pages 181, 182 and 183
Monument, characterized by Ture Sjolander as a series of  'electronic paintings' is a free flowing colage of electronically distorted and transformed icoic media images. Set to a similarly improvised jazz and sound effects track, images of pop stars, political and historical celebrities and media personalities, culled from archive film footage and photographic stills have been electronically manipulated - stretched, skewed, exploded, rippled and rotated. The relentless flow of semi-abstracted monochromatic faces and associated sounds seems to both celebrate and satirize the contemporary visual culture of the time. In its fluid mix of visual information it generalizes the television medium, draining it of its specific content and momentary significance. It creates a kind of 'monument' to the ephemeral - all this will pass, as it is passing before you now.
Archive film footage and photographic stills of familiar faces and people, such as Lennon and McCartney, Chaplin, Hitler, the Mona Lisa - the 'monument' of the world culture - flicker and flash, stretch and ooze across the television screen. In some moments the television medium is itself directly referenced, the familiar screen shape presented and rescanned, images of video feedback and, at one point, its vertical roll out of adjustment, anticipate Joan Jonas's seminal tape, although for very different purposes. The work anticipated a number of later videotapes, particularly the distorted iconic images of Nam June Paik.
Gene Youngblood described the psychological power and effect of these transformations i his influential and visionary book Expanded Cinema (Youngblood 1970):
Images undergo transformations at first subtle, like respiration, then increasingly violent until little remains of the original icon. In this process, the images pass through thousands of stages of semi-cohesion, making the viewer constantly aware of his orientation to the picture. The transformations accur slowly and with great speed, erasing perspectives, crossing psycological barriers. A figure might stretch like a silly putty or become rippled in liquid universe. Harsh basrelief effects accentuate physical dimensions with great subtlety, so that one eye or ear might appear slightly unnatural. And finally the image disintegrates into a constellation of shimmering video phosphores.
Sjolander and his collaborators at Sveriges Radio (the Swedish Broadcasting Company) in Stockholm had worked together on a number of related projects since the mid-1960s, beginning with The Role of Photography, Sjolander's first experiment with electronic manipulations of the broadcast image in 1965. This project was followed with the broadcast of Time (1966), a thirty-minute transmission of 'electronic paintings' produced using the same temporarily configured video image synthesizer that was later used to create Monument.
The system that Sjolander and his colleagues used involved the transfer of photographic images (film footage and transparencies) to videotape using a 'flying-spot' telecine machine. This process produced electronic images which they transformed and manipulated by applying square and sine signals with a waveform generator during the transfer stage, often using this process repeatedly to apply greater levels of transformation.
For Sjolander and his collaborator Lars Weck, the broadcasting of Monument was the epicentre of an extended communication experiment in electronic image-making reaching out to an audience of millions.
Kristian Romare, writing in a book published as part of an extended series of artworks which included publishing, posters, record covers and paintings after the broadcasting of Monument, describes the scope of Sjolander and Weck,s vision and aspirations for the new image-generating technique they had pioneered:
see separate article Sjolander,s CV on the Internet.
In this process images are produced using a television camera rescanning an oscilloscope or CRT screen. The display images are manipulated (squeezed, stretched, rotated, etc.) using magnetic or electronic modulation. The manipulated images, rescanned by a second camera are then fed through an image processor. This type of instrument was also used without an input camera feed, the resultant images produced by manipulation of  the raster. Examples of this type of instrument include Ture Sjolander,s ' Temporary " Video Synthesizer (1966-69), the Paik/Abe Synthesizer, and the Rutt/Etra Scan Processor (1973).


----Original Message Follows----
From: Christopher Meigh Andrews>
To: turesjolander
Subject: RE: Monument

Date: Wed, 01 Jun 2005 12:14:19 +0100


As you rightly say, there is a sense in which the American artists have
written everybody else out of the history of video art. I would like to
put some people (such as yourself) back in! I would like to use an image
or two from the stills of Monument that I have found on the web, but
they are very low resolution. Would you be willing to e-mail an image of
greater resolution? (300dpi would be best- jpeg or tiff, if possible)
also, i attach a little form so that you grant me the rights to
reproduce the image in the book. Is this OK? if so, please fill it in
and send it back to me.

I would like to do more than simply paraphrase what Gene (Youngblood)
has written in Expanded Cinema, which as you say is what M. Rush has
done. Any chance that you can tell me a little bit more about your ideas
with Monument and how it began? I will of course piece togther what I
can from the web site, and from what Aapo Saask has written. I also will
talk to Brian Hoey and Peter Donebauer. i also have the Biddick Farm
catalogue from the exhibtion at Tyne & Wear, which has a little info.

All best wishes to you- and i will certainly send your regards to Brian
& Peter!!!


Dr. Chris Meigh-Andrews PhD (RCA) MA, HDCP
Electronic & Digital Art Unit
38 St. Peters Street
Preston PR1 7BS

Ture Sjölander. Konstnär. Sundsvall och Australien.


Ture Sjölander, född 1937 i Sundsvall, är konstnären som efter debuten 1961 på Sundsvalls museum blev uppmärksammad experimentell avantgardekonstnär i Stockholm, gjorde många och än mer uppmärksammade konstverk och sedan flyttade till Australien.

Han har en diger cv och har uttryckt sig i mängder av tekniker. ”… Hans produktion består av fotografier, filmer, böcker, artiklar, textilier, TV-program, videoinstallationer, happenings, grafik, skulpturer och målningar. Framför allt består den av ett ifrågasättande och skapande liv. Det är detta som får honom att framstå som en av 1900-talets största svenska konstnärer”, enligt en artikel i konsttidskriften KONSTPERSPEKTIV av Aapo Sääsk , nr1/05.

Dessutom är han en riktigt skön personlighet, tycker Kulturguidens reporter som har varit i Australien och träffat honom. Läs mer om hennes möte med Ture Sjölander här…Ture Sjölander är en mångfasetterad person, inte bara till sin personlighet. Även hans konstutövande är mycket att greppa - så mycket har han producerat i så många olika former, varav en del banbrytande.

Dessutom är hans privata livsöde en sak för sig. Tures son kidnappades 1993 då sonen var tre år, och har sedan dess inte setts till. Med allt vad som följde i den historiens spår…

Så vad ska man välja att berätta om denna man och konstnär som varit verksam i världens alla hörn, men har sina rötter på Östermalm i Sundsvall…?

Sällskaplig ensamvarg

- Jag är lite av en ensamvarg som varken har eller behöver människor nära, beskriver sig Ture.

Uttalandet förvånar mig, för han är så social, spirituell, kommunikativ att det motsäger det. Som att han möter mig med en stor varm bamsekram och ett brett leende då vi ses första gången. Och bjuder in mig att bo några dagar i hans hem.

De följande dagarna får jag, när Ture guidar mig runt, inte bara uppleva omgivningarna kring orten mellan hav och flod på Australiens östkust där han bor. Under våra vandringar på den ena platsen vackrare än den andra får jag även ta del av privatpersonen och konstnären Ture då han berättar öppenhjärtigt om sig och sitt liv.

Många ansikten

Har man mött Ture Sjölander har man mött många ansikten, i flera olika åldrar. Han har glimten i ögat, som vore han en buspojke på sju år. Om det är på fullaste allvar eller bara ett av hans många lustiga infall som får honom att stapla tre par glasögon på näsan, är inte lätt att veta… Samtidigt är han klok och allvarlig - som en 100-åring med stor erfarenhet av livets många skeenden och innehåll.

Allt på samma gång. Han är motsägelsefull, anarkistisk, rebellisk, en provokatör och en humorist.

Man brukar tala om konstnärssjälar, men det känns i detta fall för tamt. Hela Ture är lite som ett konstverk, han själv. Som en bildkonstens Torsten Flink fast utan det mörka vansinnet, men med samma genialitet i den artistiska galenskapen.

Hem igen… kanske

Ture lever ensam ett ganska stilla och lastfritt liv i sitt lilla hus. Som han för övrigt funderar på att byta till ett större.

- Så jag får plats med en ateljé så jag kan måla igen. Fast jag röker ett par cigaretter om dagen, säger han på sitt speciella sätt, pratades om flera saker samtidigt.

Tanken att återvända till Sundsvallstrakten lockar honom också, även om han inte kommer att ge upp Australien och livet där.

- Men ett konstprojekt där hemma vore kul… Finns det något intresse för det, tror du?, funderar han.

Just nu jobbar han mest på nätet där han gör internetkonst. Hans internetkonst har många sidor, extrema mängder nivåer och sammanlänkningar. Men alla är olika sidor av samma sak. Precis så som han själv är.

Rapp i tal och tanke

Ture är så snabb i tanken och i sina associationer att det till att börja med är svårt att hänga med i hans resonemang och diskussioner. Han svär, resonerar och skrattar högt i samma mening.

Han är ju så komplex och motsägelsefull, och han är även allt mellan sina egna ytterligheter. Det tar en god stund att hitta hans tanketakt och hans sätt att prata med vilt hyperassocierande utvikningar, bisatser och kast. Därtill hans humoristiska infall.

När jag väl fått kläm på de bitarna är det otroligt kul att konversera Ture, och samtalen inspirerar den egna tanken. Det gör mötet med honom så roligt och spännande.

Från det ena till det andra

Han kastar sig mellan resonemang om sin syn på konst och sitt förhållningssätt till sin egen konst, över till då han var i Nya Guinea och blev kompis med en inföding.

- Fast ingen av oss förstod den andres språk blev vi goda vänner och jag bjöds hem till hans familj och by, berättar Ture.

Vidare till kvinnorna i hans liv och hans två vuxna döttrar, därifrån till då han vid ett tillfälle fann sig skakandes hand med Marlon Brando då han hälsade på en kompis i USA som skulle presentera sin granne. Ytterligare vidare till anekdoter från hans barndom och kärleksfulla ord om hans älskade mamma och pappa i Sundsvall.


Och sedan till den tragiska historien om hans son som blev kidnappad som treåring för 17 år sedan, och då Ture mitt i sin desperation och sorg över detta själv blev oskyldigt häktad.

Det här är två saker han inte glömmer. Sin son har han aldrig återsett och såren efter att själv ha blivit misstrodd är djupa.

Med synen i centrum

Ture Sjölander har både mött och arbetat med ett flertal kändisar och även mött vanliga människor, dessutom har han rest en hel del. Därmed har han mycket att berätta.

Mycket handlar om hans förmåga att se. Inte bara att se människor, utan att överhuvudtaget se. Att uppleva sin tillvaro med ögonen som främsta verktyg.

Vikten av det visuella är något han ständigt återkommer till. Hans synsätt och referenspunkt är också han själv och hans ögon, med vilka han girigt slukar sin omgivning. Med eller utan glasögon…


Utgångspunkten för de flesta av hans resonemang är hans eget perspektiv på saker och ting, och han menar att det viktigaste i livet är att förverkliga sig själv. Och att den egna bekräftelsen väger tyngst.

Vi pratar om behovet av att bevisa sig och sitt inför andra. Att bevisa, kunna påvisa, saker som finns och har hänt runt omkring en osv.

- Huvudsaken är att man vet själv, menar Ture eftertänksamt och eftertryckligt.

Ointressanta konstobjekt

Då vi talar om konst och kultur menar han att det måste in på alla nivåer i samhället.

- Konsten och kulturen är ingen handelsvara att tjäna pengar på eller värdera ekonomiskt, utan ett förhållningssätt till tillvaron och verkligheten som en ytterligare dimension, menar Ture.

Därmed är han djupt engagerad i förestående val i både Sverige och Australien.

- Det är också en del av min konstnärliga verksamhet och som jag personligen är opolitisk tycker jag därmed att mitt panorama är något vidare än genomsnittsmänniskans, säger han.

Om själva konstverken menar han att de inte är det intressanta i sig.

- De är bara objekt, anser han. Utan det viktiga är processen i sig; att testa nya vägar, nya tekniker - nya whatever, som han säger.

Monumentalt konstexperiment

Som Monument t ex, som gjordes av Ture och Lars Weck i mitten av 60-talet. Ett konstexperiment som är en historia för sig. Dels genom vad det är, dels genom hur det gick till både i och runt det hela. Så omfattande att jag överlåter på läsaren att själv söka info, t ex på nätet.

Men att verket med elektroniska animeringar inte bara är en föregångare till videokonst, utan även rent tekniskt en föregångare verkar de flesta vara överens om. Liksom att Ture hör till pionjärerna inom konstarten.

Elektroniskt måleri

- Jag själv slog fast definitionen elektroniskt måleri och elektronisk konst. Som jag fortfarande anser vara en relevant definition av vad mina experiment rörde sig om; den absolut första elektroniska animationen, kommenterar Ture och nämner att det absolut första televiserade "videokonst"verket i världen är ett annat av hans verk, Time.

I Monument är filmen inte det egentliga konstverket, vilket Ture anser många felaktigt uppfattat det som. Utan det är själva genomförandet av den elektroniska akten som var det konstnärliga experimentet, medan filmen mer är en dokumentation av det som skedde. Ett avtryck.

(Det skrivna) ordets makt?

Sedan detta om ordet. Även det något Ture ofta återkommer till. Han är döless på det skrivna ordet och tycker värderingen av det är minst sagt överdriven. Han tycker det är för mycket ord och för mycket fokus på orden.

- Och jag gillar inte journalister, säger han och kastar mig med ett pillimariskt leende en retsam blick.

Ändå är hans internetsidor fulla av bevis, bilddokument och ord. Och han berättar att om det är något han samlar på så är det just dokument av allehanda slag.

- Jag har lådvis, kilovis, säger han. Och viftar med handen åt något obestämt håll där allt detta förvaras.

Parallellt med sin avsky för det skrivna ordet samlar Ture alltså på dokument. Han är verbal och argumenterar och diskuterar, han skriver på nätet och har publicerat böcker som inte bara innehåller bilder utan även text, skriven av honom själv. T ex en om Greta Garbo och han har även jobbat på en bok tillsammans med Charlie Chaplin.

Motsägelsens logik

Motsägelsefullt? Kanske, men 100% kompatibelt om man är Ture Sjölander - där motpoler, kontraster, ytterligheter och spänningen som uppstår däremellan är på något sätt är hans signum, tänker jag då jag efter några intensiva dagar vinkar hej då till honom från bussfönstret.

Och jag undrar stilla, men en smula oroat, hur jag ska kunna beskriva denne komplexe person och konstnär med hans egna hatobjekt de skrivna orden. Ture Sjölander, liksom hans konst, måste ju egentligen upplevas.


Text och foto: Gussie Ericsson

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samt t ex

(där det även finns ett antal officiella länkar av Ture och hans CV, plus artiklar)

Komplex = som består av många delar vilka hänger samman på ett svåröverskådligt sätt

       ELECTIONS 2010