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Serlachius Residency, Finland, June 2024

I was originally offered the Serlachius Residency opportunity for January 2024  but as I was selected to join the WeSA Festival and residency in Jeju Island, I negotiated to reschedule it for June. Arriving from Paris in late May I encountered weather and sun, the temperatures being almost 10ºC higher in Helsinki!

Over the three days I was in the capital city of Finland I met a number of very pleasant musicians and artists, gave an artist talk at the University of the Arts thanks to Ava Grayson, visited the anechoic chambers of Aalto University and performed in the renowned Myymälä2 gallery space.

Stopping briefly in Tampere to visit friend and artist Johanna Lonka I headed to the town of Mänttä to spend a month living in a large house in the grounds of the Serlachius Museum and manor house, and cycling to and from the studio every day along the lakeside path quaintly known as 'Love Path'.


Images from residency. Left: Old projector used for parts, centre: Donated hand sanitiser dispensers and tills, right: Three vacuum cleaners randomly activated

I rescheduled the residency in Mänttä to June so I could make some tests and developments there for a project in July and August with Narva Art Residency in Estonia where I have been commissioned to make a public artwork from electronic waste. I took some materials with me but hoped I would be able to source some during the time there. The first objects I was given were some old projectors, one of which I tried to hardwire to power up, but this didn;t work so I dismantled it for any components I could use. The most useful ones were the numerous cooling fans, which I made some initial tests with.

Left: Two fans and two bulbs make a nice stereo textural sound field, right: The two fans cause a bulb to rotate continuously (taken from a piece by Junya Katoaka

I then tried to have the fans levitate two wooden balls but this didn't work. However when used in conjunction with two lampshades taken from faulty lamps, they caused the balls to continually rise and fall.

I was also given some broken hand sanitiser dispenser units and two old tills to work with that were going to be disposed of. On dismantling the dispensers I found that they used a kind of (I think) infrared sensor, which I rigged to work without also pushing a switch.

One thing I really wanted to explore during the residency was how to trigger mains powered motors and devices more, not having don't this so much in previous work. Using an 8 relay switch unit and Arduino I managed to randomly activate three extension leads with a vacuum cleaner and lamp attached to each. This was set up in the gallery space in the residency building - which fortunately was empty and unused as I was the only artist-in-residence in this period. In fact I had the whole building to myself!

Once I was satisfied with activating three sets of mains powered devices, I set about trying to combine the relay/Arduino setup with the dispenser sensors, and found that I still needed to keep the original dispenser motors attached in order to send the signal. This is good in a way as I can use these to also trigger some other process or device.

It was fortunate to be given these hand sanitiser dispensers as I now am able to apply other sensors to a similar setup in the project in Narva.

I want to thank the Serlachius Residency for this opportunity, especially Anita Hannunen, and to my friends Johanna Lonka and Henriika Kontimo in Tampere.

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