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The Future Is Not What It Used To Be
A Film by Mika Taanila
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Erkki Kurenniemi is one of the great unsung pioneers of the electronic age, a man whose career encompasses a surprisingly natural blend of music, film, computers and robotics, and explores the interrelationships between art, nature and technology.

A leading figure in the Sixties avant-garde in music and film in Finland, Kurenniemi built his legendary DIMI synthesizers in the late 60's, and probably created the first digital synthesizer in the world. In 1973 he created the first commercially manufactured and marketed microcomputer - two years before the American MITS Altair 8800.

THE FUTURE IS NOT WHAT IT USED TO BE shows many of Kurenniemi's innovative creations, never-before-seen archival material from the early years of electronic art, and excerpts from his own unfinished experimental short films. But the core of the film is what Kurenniemi is doing today, the most significant of all his projects: the task of collecting everything.

Today Kurenniemi is devoted to the obsessive, even manic, effort to record his own life, preserving all his thoughts and observations, trivial objects, and a constant stream of images, continually recording an audio diary, making videotapes, and shooting 20,000 photographs a year.

This accumulating mass of documentation is then regularly fed into a computer, storing the record of his existence, his mind and consciousness in digital bytes, thus creating a reconstruction of his life, a "virtual persona," to be premiered in July, 2048.

Perhaps fulfilling some sort of quest for immortality, Kurenniemi's project can be seen as the logical extension of the notion of merging man and machine, of technologically reconstructing the human soul.

"Viewed from a historical perspective, Kurenniemi's music foretold digital directions in rhythm, noise and jumpcut editing, only back then no one was listening."—The Wire

"Recommended! deftly intersperses clips of Kurenniemi's early innovative films with more recent footage of the artist obsessively collecting video, audio, and found objects - artifacts of a stream-of-consciousness digital diary. To this intriguing mix is added a sound track which includes Kurenniemi's groundbreaking synthesized music. The resulting controlled chaos seems perfectly evocative of the life and work of this idiosyncratic artist who dwells in the constantly shifting nexus of man and machine."—Educational Media Reviews Online

"[Mika Taanila's] most ambitious film...balanced between biography and essay film...a remarkable ensemble of audio-visual elements."—Frame News

"Gives us a precious glimpse into a lost era of idealistic thought and innovation."—The Guardian

"A highly intellectual film...engrossing...Fascinating!"—The Miami Herald

2003 Venice Biennale
2003 DocFest (Germany)
2003 Karlovy Vary International Film Festival
2004 Festival International du Film sur Art (Montreal)

52 minutes / color
Release: 2004
Copyright: 2002
Sale: $348

Subject areas:
Art, Biographies, Cinema Studies, Communications, Finland, Geography, History (World), History of Science, Media Studies, Music, Philosophy, Physics, Science and Technology, Sociology, Western Europe

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Last Updated March 6, 2015
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