WASD – MERILÄINEN, RÄISÄNEN, SIHVONEN

FullSizeRender (6)OKSASENKATU 11. UNTIL 30TH OF JULY.

WASD is a combination of letters recognized by people who have spent time playing video games. This combination signifies commands for directions on keyboard W- to forward; A to left; S to back and D to right. In July 2016, when nightly streets in Helsinki are crowded with people catching Pokémons, virtual realities are constructed also in the realm of art.

Reija Meriläinen, Santeri Räisänen and Eetu Sihvonen complete each others skills – Meriläinen comes from the field of arts, Räisänen from mathematics and Sihvonen from graphic design. Friends from before, they had talked casually about doing a project together and as the opportunity at OK11 came across, they decided to work together to set up an exhibition. When the exhibition period in the beginning of July started, the doors to the gallery were closed and the artists locked themselves in with a vague vision of a concept. When the two week-period was over, the gallery was opened again – and constructed in virtual reality.

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The visit to virtual reality in WASD is individual and depends on the choices the visitor makes in her journey in virtual reality. My trip to the world beyond did not last too long as my curiosity brought me to the edge of a black hole. While my existential questions remained unanswered, WASD offered not only a nostalgic trip to youth and the world of Lara Croft, but also made me ponder on the future possibilities of technology.

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Speak. WASD, 2016.

Returning back to the actual gallery, I was lucky to catch the artist Reija Meriläinen for a discussion. (Hilariously enough, Pokémon Go is how the artist Reija Meriläinen entertained herself when I entered the exhibition.) We talked about early internet games and MTV; references that are visible also her previous works. Interest in media has followed Meriläinen throughout years and the next exhibition on show in Titanik-galleria stems from Youtube. Looking further into the future, Meriläinen is moving from brutal bodily approach to researching social structures or as she expresses it: to ”sosiaalisten suhteiden rakenteelliseen väkivaltaan”. Interest in media is present even here and the work will ground on the now cult-declared tv-series Survivors.

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Artist Reija Meriläinen in the sensuous, curvy armchair which is a vital part of the exhibition.

While we are discussing in the gallery, older guy passes by to take a look on the exhibition. After spending a good while at the cellar, he takes the stairs up and when he exits, he turns to say ”it is exciting to see the world you just experienced in real life but now like this, on screen”. We’ll see if the arrangement takes an upside-down turn in the near future.

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Meta meta. Pokémon Go vs WASD.

Maija Kasvinen

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