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Finnish inventor, engineer, filmmaker, nuclear physicist turned artist and technology pioneer of the 1960s, Erkki Kurenniemi is also a science popularizer, a futurologist, and an experimental film-maker. One of the great unsung pioneers of the electronic age, Erkki Kurrenniemi played a central role in the development of electronic music in Finland.
Kurenniemi founded The University of Helsinki Electronic Music Studio in the early 1960s, where the most well known of his electroacoustic compositions were realized. In the early 1970s he developed a series of synthesizers, the DIMI, and the video synthesizer DIMI-O (also known as the ‘Sexophone’), which generated light and sound based on human contact. Alongside such Finnish pioneers as Eino Ruutsalo (for whose short films Kurenniemi composed music), Kurenniemi also did some early work on the field of Finnish media art and contributed to Finnish video art and happenings. In the early 1960s, he collaborated with Terry Riley to create the first ‘happening’ in Finland, orchestrated using artists from the Finnish underground music scene including the band The Sperm.
Born in 1941 in Hämeenlinna, Kurenniemi studied mathematics, theoretical physics, nuclear physics, and philosophy before working in electronics, micro-computing, media art, music, happenings, and short films. Kurenniemi was a pioneer of industrial automation at Rosenlew in the 1970s, an automation designer in Nokia's cable division in the early 1980s, and head of exhibition planning at the Heureka Science Centre in 1987-1999.
Over decades, Kurenniemi incessantly built up a unique archive of photographs, floppy discs and hard drives, hundreds of video and audiotapes as well as dozens of notebooks. He has documented his everyday activities obsessively, collecting vast amounts of audio-visual-textual material to make a digital 'back-up' of his life. The archive is an attempt to provide the necessary materials for someone in the future to be able to reconstruct human life once computers are powerful and intelligent enough to perform the task, something that Kurenniemi considers inevitable by 2048.
Erkki Kurreniemi’s work is presented via both a film and music programme at CTM 2014.