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nimiia cétiï

Jenna Sutela
1-15 september 2018
Video Installation, Somerset House Studios, London, UK

JENNA SUTELA’s new audio-visual work nimiia cétiï is inspired by experiments in interspecies communication and aspires to connect with a world beyond our consciousness.

Documenting the interactions between a neural network, audio recordings of early Martian language, and footage of the movements of space bacteria, the work uses machine learning to generate a new form of communication.

Here, the computer is a shaman of the modern days, a medium, articulating messages from entities that cannot otherwise speak. Interpreting Martian originally channelled by French medium Hélène Smith in the nineteenth century, the machine simultaneously engages with the movements of an extremophilic bacterium called Bacillus subtilis which, according to recent spaceflight experimentation, could survive on Mars.

Mixing wetware and hardware, the project also portrays the computer as an alien of our creation.

nimiia cétiï is a new video installation by artist JENNA SUTELA, in collaboration with Somerset House Studios resident MEMO AKTEN, and DAMIEN HENRY, Head of Innovation at the Google Arts & Culture Lab, as part of Google Arts & Culture’s artist-in-residence program n-Dimensions.


JENNA SUTELA works with words, sounds, and other living materials. Her installations and performances seek to identify and react to precarious social and material moments, often in relation to technology. Sutela’s artwork has been presented at Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin, Serpentine Marathon in London, Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki, and The Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo. Last year, she edited Orgs: From Slime Mold to Silicon Valley and Beyond (Garret Publications 2017), an experimental survey of decentralized organisms and organizations, expanding on her collaboration with Physarum polycephalum, the single-celled yet “many-headed” slime mold.

MEMO AKTEN is an artist working with computation as a medium, exploring the collisions between nature, science, technology, ethics, ritual, tradition and religion. Combining critical and conceptual approaches with investigations into form, movement and sound, he creates data dramatizations of natural and anthropogenic processes. Alongside his practice, he is currently working towards a PhD at Goldsmiths University of London in artificial intelligence and expressive human-machine interaction. His work has been shown and performed internationally, featured in books and academic papers; and in 2013 Akten received the Prix Ars Electronica Golden Nica for his collaboration with Quayola, ‘Forms’.

DAMIEN HENRY is head of innovation for the Google Arts & Culture Lab, where he directs a team of creative coders and organises artist residencies. He is the co-inventor of Google Cardboard, an award winning virtual reality headset in cardboard. Prior to Google, Damien was CTO of a voice analysis company and co-founded AudioGaming, a sound synthesis startup. He is also the creator of Novelab, a small studio focused on cutting-edge technologies. Damien has an engineering degree in mechanics and acoustics; he has been coding since the age of 10 and has never stopped exploring since then. He is passionate about applying virtual reality and machine learning to arts and is an occasional exhibit curator in this field.