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On view as part of Kiasma’s “Night Train” exhibition in Helsinki, Rekula Heli’s “Vyyhti” is a mesmerizing video work that features two women winding and unwinding lengths of yarn in a private ritual. As several balls of yarn bounce on the floor to conclude the winding, the motion switches imperceptibly into reverse and the process begins again. I saw the piece several times through, but even with repeated viewing its essence remained both hypnotizing and hidden.

A few blocks away, the Tennis Palace Art Museum hosts an expansive look at the culture and artifacts of video games (well, mostly the artifacts) in “Game On.” There are lots of new and old geeky toys on view here, and though my sentimental favorite,”Tempest,” isn’t included, there are plenty of surprises to keep you interested. One such surprise is inclusion of video games for the visually impaired. Another is several collections of video game music sorted by composer; after listening to a few of these contributions I felt like advising the authors to keep their day jobs, but of course producing this stuff constitutes their day jobs. Some artworks were scattered throughout the show, but most of these suffered in comparison for their often flat level of interactivity and ankle-deep conceptual depth (video games usually have a dozen or more levels to navigate through, why does so much “media art” struggle to have even one?). A happy exception to this is Andy Best and Merja Puustinen’s “Flu_Ids,” a piece in which various fluids relating to the Baltic region, from seawater to blood, are circulated through a creepy-looking set of pumps and video monitors. Eschewing interactivity altogether and instead proffering an unstable set of relationships between commerce, culture, and identity, the piece reveals more about the notion of a closed loop than any “game over” message ever will.

- Ed Osborn [Saturday, October 18th, 2003]

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