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Tuomas A. Laitinen: Protean Sap

HD video, 11’8’’
Courtesy the artist and Helsinki Contemporary

Protean Sap consists of augmented reality filters and a single-channel video. The work creates a strange, dream-like reality where geometric formations encrust objects and bodies, paired with a mysterious seer’s text. The forms are simulated from protein chains of viruses, bacteria, and other microbial life. These shapes are then changed into masks and ceremonial artefacts which morph in a hallucinatory way. In the video, the metaphor for protean change is a tide pool—an intertidal zone influenced by the moon and the sun. Requiring many adaptations from its inhabitants, the ecosystem of intertidal zones can be seen as a gauge for the constant change that happens in the oceans, while also offering a model to study broader ecological changes. The protein chains link us to our past and our future, and in the work, they are mediated through a “looking device” and a seer, who utters recipes and predictions.

Commissioned by Daata, Lighthouse Brighton, and The Finnish Institute in London.

3D animations and simulations, AR, sound: Tuomas A. Laitinen
Sound consultant: Kaino Wennerstrand
Biological Macromolecular Structures: Protein Data Bank
Music: Il primo libro de’ balli by Giorgio Mainerio (16th century)
Anonymous (16th century)

Ensemble Nylandia
Recorders: Sini Vahervuo
Archlute, Baroque guitar: Mikko Ikäheimo
Cello: Tatu Ahola
Recorded by Ville Hyvönen at Suomenlinna Studios

Ocarina of Phlegm: Tuomas A. Laitinen


Tuomas A. Laitinen (b. 1976) is an artist who works with moving image, sound, light, glass, chemical and microbial processes, as well as algorithms to explore the entanglements of multispecies coexistence. Laitinen´s works have been shown in the 21st Biennale of Sydney, 7th Bucharest Biennale, Screen City Biennial 2019 (Stavanger), SADE LA (Los Angeles), Amado Art Space (Seoul), Moving Image New York, A Tale of a Tub (Rotterdam), Art Sonje Center (Seoul), Helsinki Contemporary, Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, EMMA (Espoo), and MOCA Shanghai. He received The Fine Arts Academy of Finland Prize in 2013.