Urban Takes Helsinki


What meanings do we attach to the city space while documenting it, and how does the social video landscape reflect urban realities? Urban Takes Helsinki, a project by Michelle Teran, looks at personal stories and different perspectives of Helsinki as depicted through online video. The project is created in collaboration with seven amateur videomakers living in the city who post their videos on YouTube.

Each videomaker is active in documenting their city surroundings, though in distinctly individual ways. Together these collections form a social map of the city, creating a container of stories within the streets and neighbourhoods of Helsinki. For Urban Takes Helsinki, videomakers are invited to talk about their personal archives to reflect on their views of the city and how they see themselves in it. In the 7-part series of interviews the videomakers – dropkernel, eeropalomaki, Iitupunk, OlliSulopuisto, Satisfate, SatunnainenKulkija, tapsahie – presented via their YouTube alias.

Urban Takes Helsinki was presented as an installation consisting of 7 flat screens for the interviews, a collage and a projection based on the participants’ YouTube videos. The installation was shown at the Lasipalatsi gallery during Media Facades 2012, August 23-26. The documented interviews were published as a series on the M2HZ channel.

Michelle Teran’s work critically engages media, connectivity and perception in the city. Her performances and installations repurpose the language of surveillance, cartography and social networks to construct unique scenarios that call conventional power and social relations into question. She is the winner of the Transmediale Award, the Turku2011 Digital Media & Art Grand Prix Award, Prix Ars Electronica and the Vida 8.0 Art & Artificial Life International Competition. Canadian-born Teran currently lives and works between Berlin and Bergen, where she is a research fellow at  at the Bergen Academy of Arts and Design.