Blow-Fi is a video art project co-led by the media producer, speech and video artist Ville Kiiski and music researcher, philosopher of art and multi-instrumentalist musician Erkki Huovinen. Their working method consists in (i) carefully staging improvised but conceptually connected encounters with artists representing different art forms, and (ii) editing this multi-artistic material into video works, sort of 21st century Gesamtkunstwerk. After previously developing this concept in video art exhibits consisting of shorter works, Kiiski and Huovinen now present their vision in full-blown form in the larger thematic work Town of Trade and Culture (Kaupan ja kulttuurin kaupunki).
In Town of Trade and Culture, Kiiski and Huovinen return to their hometown Turku in South-Western Finland, roaming through its backyards, docks, alleys and coffee rooms, and portraying a staggering cavalcade of real-life citizens in all their mundane hopes, fears, beauty, foulness, and fervor. In this bittersweet drama, the center stage is taken by product managers, drunkards, desperate family fathers, communal politicians, pub musicians, and workers in small industries. On one level the work thus presents an alternative to official tourist guides and historiography: the workings of a Northern-European town and its lifeblood, the river, are explored from grass-root perspectives usually hidden from public view either by censure, shame, or deprecation. On another level, however, the work can be read as a eulogy for an anonymous post-punk generation whose dreams have faded into middle-aged innocuousness. The town of Turku, in all its tangible individuality, thus grows to represent the shattered mental landscape of the man and woman who may never have heard of postmodernity as an academic exercise but in whose daily lives it is being constituted as an inescapable, harsh fact.
Artistically, all of the material seen in the final edited work originates in totally free improvisations carried out by Kiiski and Huovinen with changing groups of artists in the early summer of 2009, both in studio spaces and in moving environments in and around Turku. The artistic work is variously informed by sources such as Fluxus, European Free Improvisation, Nouvelle Vague, Action Painting, Performance, Beat Writing, Jazz, and 20th Century Musical Modernism, but penetrated by a relativizing influence of popular culture – all the way from pre-war waltzes to contemporary soap operas, and seen from the mundane street-level perspective. The use of improvisation as a central working method is driven by the maxim that instead of leading to loose unstructuredness improvisation should rather work as a guarantee of the moment-to-moment coherence of the artistic work, as well as providing real-time validity for the ensuing portraits of the fleeting nature of human mind.