The Minerals of Extra
Erwin Laiho’s conceptual sculpting revolves around the interconnected ascent of materials from natural minerals to consumer and digital technology. Laiho explores the complex ontological relationship between matter, time, and the development of the universe. By transfiguring functional, digital devices, he strips them “of their pristine state of consumerist desire and physical autonomy in order to reveal an immanent vitality of the raw materials.”
Extra Terrestrial creates an idea of celestial bodies, life forms, and phenomena originating from our terrestrial environment. The sheer volume of hardware in the exhibition bluntly characterises the dominance of digital technology and the global internet infrastructures by raising concerns about their impacts. Laiho considers technology something fundamentally human. A part of our being. We create the world and our agencies with minerals. For the artist this is the main denominator ruling out the binary logic of both the human-nature and nature-technology dichotomies, as they for him are not elemental enough.
Working in the veins of Arte Povera and Mono-Ha, Laiho’s objective is not to obliterate the essence of the objects. Just the contrary. Ideally for him “what’s left are incredibly refined mineral materials with a palpable potential and an unobstructed honesty to them – much like their predecessors under our feet and in the night skies.” Whereas Laiho’s sculptural elements may have been built to serve only for a short second before the next hot design, the viewer of the artworks is placed on the deeper timeline of geology.
While the sculptures challenge the conventional ways we perceive our devices and subvert our spatial expectations, they engage in a very direct dialogue with the history and traditions of the medium of sculpture itself. The works feature existing, geometric elements that play with symmetry, balance, tension and the fundamental qualities that underlie the physical world.
Extra Terrestrial invites us to reflect on the profound ways in which silicon-based life forms shape our world and our relationship with it, challenging us to acknowledge how humanity exists in technology.
Text by Dr. Aura Seikkula