"Succession" Terike Haapoja

Terike Haapoja

Video Installation, 4min / loop, 2008

We perceive ourselves as autonomous individuals. Still, billions of others live in and on our bodies: microbes and parasites, not only causes of diseases but also essential for our well-being. The interaction between us, the host organism, and these communities is still very much a mystery, as only less then 1 percent of the population that we call ”us” has been identified.

The video shows a recording of the growth of bacteria on a canvas that was pressed on the artists’ face. The portrait becomes visible as colonies of bacteria, visible to the naked eye, emerge. The size of the original cultivation is 20x30 cm. The process of 9 days has been edited to 4 minute loop.

Interactive Installation with live trees, electronics, sound, light, CO2 sensors, breathing
programming Aleksi Pihkanen, Gregoire Rousseau, 2008

In the process of photosynthesis carbon dioxide is converted into sugars and other organic compounds. Nearly all life depends on photosynthesis either directly, or indirectly as the ultimate source of energy in food. But photosynthesis is also essential for maintaining the normal level of oxygen in the atmosphere. As we breath out or release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, photosynthetic organisms can fix it, releasing oxygen as a by product. The interaction between species is thus physical, as we are practically parts or the same metabolism.

The installation DIALOGUE enables an audible dialogue between breathing and the plants’ photosynthesis process. When the visitor whistles to the trees they respond by whistling back. The work aims at raising our consciousness on the interactive relationship with our surroundings and the non-human environment.

The installation consists of a platform, thoroughly which live trees grow, and a bench for the visitors. The visitor is invited to whistle or breathe to the CO2 sensor placed in front of the bench. The CO2 exhaled by the visitor activates the light and the small measuring chambers attached to the branches of the trees. The decreasing of the CO2 level inside the measuring chambers, caused by photosynthesis, is presented as a whistling sound. Lights, sound, CO2, digital and analogue technology form a circuit of information which enables the viewer to perceive the interaction with non-human environment not only as a physical process but also as flow of information. The technology used in the work is an adaptation of the technology used in forest ecology.


Terike Haapoja is a visual artist, working and living in Helsinki, Finland. Her work consists of videos, installations and performance projects, characterized by the innovative use of new media and new technology. Haapoja’s work deals with human - non-human relations and the clash of subjective experience of the world with objective knowledge of it. Haapoja has a MA degree both from the Theater Academy of Finland (dep. of Performance art and -theory) and from the Academy of Fine Arts in Finland. She is currently working on her artistic research PhD in the Academy of Fine Arts in Helsinki.