Challenging our perception of the environment, Finnish artist Ilkka Halso visualizes a future we probably do not want to see become a reality.
I grew up on a farm. The forest nearby was an ideal place to play. Nature was a safe place to build my tree-houses and playgrounds. I’m still building them. That’s maybe why nature always has been my key subject since the beginning of my carrier. First, I was influenced by how nature was represented in science. And what that told about man himself. Nowadays, my photographic projects are investigating attitudes and practices in which man is exploiting earth and nature—using science.
My approach is somehow ironic—at least in my own opinion. I create a vision of the future which might raise questions and doubts about the direction in which the world is going. I look into the future. And it’s a future I rather wouldn’t see.
Can you tell us about how you work? What is your creative process like?
I have two approaches. One is that I build constructions and lightning in nature and photograph them. The other is based on digital image making. While outlining my Museum of Nature–series my plans grew so big that they were impossible to build in real life, so I decided to use computer generated imaging methods alongside photography. When photographing in nature, I usually have some idea of what man made objects and construction I would like to add to my photographs. My work process is very slow. It could take months and years to finalize certain ideas. My biggest challenge is to believe in my work since the process takes several years. Especially working with 3D is time and nerve consuming work. It takes months of work before getting satisfaction of achieving something. To keep the joy in my work, fast photographic sessions in nature are great counterparts
Jokelaisenaapa Swamp. Ilkka Haslo. 2015
Luosto Fell. Ilkka Haslo. 2015
Is there an element of art you enjoy working with most?
I like photography. Photography makes you go out and explore the world. Seeing things you wouldn’t normally see. Since a lot of my work includes working with computers indoors, I especially enjoy working outdoors doing installations or going on photography trips. Physical work and trekking give inspiration and produce new ideas.
Is there a humorous element in your works?
Humour and playfullnes is there in my works. Subdued. I like to include private jokes—something absurd or irrelevant. Like life itself.
Ilkka Haslo working on The Cube.
How do you know when a work is finished?
It’s difficult. It is often hard to decide when work is finished. There is always something you could add or adjust. In some point you just have to decide. This is it!
Is there an artwork you are most proud of?
The Kitka River picture is probably my best known work. And it was also memorable to make. When I started to work with my Museum of Nature-series back in 2001, the Kitka River work was one of the first clear ideas I wanted to realise. It took about three years to finish this single picture. I spent the time on a lot of planning. I had to learn how to use 3D-modeling programs. And I went on two trips to photograph the place. I spent 3-4 months of working on the computer. And my computer spent one whole month of rendering the pictures of the constructions.
The basic idea was to cover a large forest or an entire ecosystem with a roof to protect it from pollution. When I was trying to find an appropriate nature setting for this idea, I saw a postcard of the river and I was sold!
While creating the constructions I tried to keep my feet on the ground. I didn’t want the constructions to look too futuristic. The roof is in a phase of construction. I think it gives the idea of a lasting process—a never-ending task.
River Kitka. Ilkka Haslo. 2004
Roller-coaster. Ilkka Haslo. 2004