Photography as a holding and mediating device for memories has permanently influenced how and what we remember, and has also shaped how we look at the world. Photography, with its endlessly renewing formats, sometimes appears to function like a time machine, providing us with access to the past, through the flat surface of an image. With an interest in this quality of photography, Tatu Heinämäki’s work Grapher appears to its viewer as a game where it is possible to step into the image as if moving inside a memory. Navigating within a landscape constructed with the help of individual images of real environments, the viewer perceives the surroundings, which consists of innumerable pieces of data, as a coherent whole. The environment appears like a photograph that within the game wraps around its experiencer to create a more realistic illusion than its actual two-dimensionality.
The piece, running on a game engine, works a bit like memories often do; a whole picture must first be sought and excavated from the depths of memories. By moving around the screen in an image created to simulate three-dimensionality, the viewer, or player, encounters “locks” that release parts of the fragmented landscape to restore it closer to the actual recollection. However, the imaginary memory interface remains suspended in the space between the real and the virtual, where simulations inevitably live. The same feeling of strangeness and alienation sometimes lingers with a photograph when time has elapsed since the moment of shooting; the image and memory are not the same, and more accurate data does not mean more authentic memory.
Tatu Heinämäki’s work utilizes photogrammetry, in which a three-dimensional model depicting the recorded object is assembled from many tens, often even a hundreds, of photographs. The environments experienced in the work consist of data collected by Heinämäki himself. The user of the work can move inside it with the help of a keyboard and progress to the point they want, from where the next player can again continue the exploration.
Tatu Heinämäki is a media artist based in Helsinki who is currently completing MA studies in photography at Aalto University. In his artistic work, Heinämäki is interested in the relationship between memories and space, as well as the possibilities that game design and new media bring to the visual arts. Tatu Heinämäki’s previous solo exhibitions have been at Galleria Uusi Kipinä, Lahti and Galleria Rajatila, Tampere in 2020.
image: still from Grapher, 2021
installation photos: Aukusti Heinonen
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