'I believe that those of us who can and are capable have a duty to work to make the world a little better place all the time. For example, we can try to improve the situation of those who are not so well off.'
Konsta Klemetti: Creative artistic thinking and finding surprising perspectives are ingrained in me
What's your background?
I was born in Lahti and have lived mainly in Helsinki. When I lived in London, I worked for Music Television. I also lived in Bangkok for a year.
Music has always been close to me. I’m originally a music journalist, and I ended up co-founding Music Export Finland. It was the first dynamic joint cultural export effort between the music industry and public organisations. I worked there for four years.
I drifted into doing different things with sound. Last summer I did a sound installation called What Finland Sounds Like at Tampere Hall and the Helsinki Festival. I curated Finnish creative people interested in music and sound to participate in the project. Together we developed soundscapes of places that they found meaningful and wanted to showcase about Finland.
Otherwise, I've played a variety of roles in my working life: I've founded a game studio, worked as a music publisher, written short stories, and done concept design for advertising agencies. Together with a friend, I also wrote a book called Game Designer Confessions, interviewing Finnish game designers. As a country in the punching above their weight within the game industry, Finland’s clever game designers get way too little recognition. The process of developing the book was the incendiary catalyst for me to start creating more. Until then, I had been a facilitator, a helper, a support for others, working in the background.
What are you studying and why?
I found Aalto when I was looking at different self-development opportunities. Creative artistic thinking and finding surprising perspectives are ingrained in my core. The interdisciplinary and artistic thinking of the ViCCA (Visual Cultures, Curating & Contemporary Art) programme at the Department of Art fits well with my way of thinking. University studies also provide useful networks, and it is interesting to follow the development of my own thinking and update my own tools. I also wish to create social artworks that take a stand in some way.
I am now in my second year of the ViCCA Master's programme. My repertoire has expanded, and I have gained more confidence. I already knew beforehand that I was interested in different digital and audio works and how they can be fused together. I was also interested in glass as a material long before Aalto. I have gained more understanding and material knowledge.
It has been fun and enlightening to discover that there is a tribe, i.e., like-minded people at Aalto. Everyone accepts an idea, no matter how crazy it is, like pulling a bream on a string on a central square while playing a violin. They could just ask, what kind of bream is it and is the violin tuned to what frequency? The culture is open-minded and accepting in a fun way. Everyone is in some sense a Gyro Gearloose. The question here is not whether you can do this, but what if?
It has been enlightening to discover that there are like-minded people at Aalto. Everyone accepts an idea, no matter how crazy it is.
What's it like to walk in Konsta Klemetti's shoes?
A lot of people I know ask me how I have time for everything I do. But I don't do ten projects every day. There are different ideas and thoughts in the air, and every now and then some of them are being taken forward and others are waiting on the backburner. It's a kind of curious observation. It's nice to work in a group and gather people of the same type around you. Or you can start something where you have to meet new kinds of people. It can also give you energy. My stride is long but restless.
You are a member of the Tokyo board. What do you do there?
Tokyo was originally founded back in 1961. When Aalto and AYY were founded, Tokyo continued to exist as an association, representing all students of art and design. We want to make the voice of art and design students heard. The everyday life of an art and design student is quite different from, for example, that of a “teekkari”, a technical student.
At the beginning of the academic year, we have a Start ARTS party for new students. And I always have to mention the legendary Maskerad, supposedly Finland's biggest masquerade event, which is also the annual celebration for art students. It has been held since the early 1900s, originally at the Ateneum. It's where everyone puts their best foot forward, according to each year's costume theme. The party is not restricted to art students, but it is open to everyone, regardless of their class or degree programme. This year's Maskerad is on 11 November.
Tokyo also organises a popular Christmas and Spring Sales, where a variety of arts and crafts pieces made by students are sold. Aalto students are staggeringly adroit. People come from far and wide to see them, and the places to sell run out very quickly.
You also produce the Artlife podcast, what is the aim of that?
Surveys have shown that the biggest fear of tech school graduates is whether they will get a good job and a good salary. On the arts side, on the other hand, students are worried about whether they will find employment at all or whether self-employment is the only option. We thought Tokyo could interview creative professionals, such as former students, about how they have coped in life and what drives them forward in their career path. We hope that the Artlife podcast could bring hope, new perspectives, and inspiration to students.
How could we develop a sense of community and belonging between different disciplines at Aalto?
This is a good and big question. We have been thinking about it. Just within the School of Arts, Design and Architecture there are silos, where the atoms don’t collide naturally.
I can honestly say that I may not have met a single techie student in Otaniemi. I may, however, have unknowingly chatted to one. But I haven't applied for a course in technology either. One of the Strange Economics courses run by our ViCCA department has had students from the School of Business, and it has been interesting to hear their stories.
Tokyo board has been envisioning whether Kipsari could become a hangout room. We're organising an ARTS theme week in Kipsari in the autumn, proudly showcasing everything that's being done at the school. Kipsari could host open discussion sessions on current topics of interest. Peer workshops could be a low-threshold way of sharing information about a skill, such as knitting, watercolour painting or 3D modelling – and of course getting people to meet in a natural way.
We hope that the Artlife podcast could bring hope, new perspectives, and inspiration to students.
How does Aalto sound to you?
Aalto represents so many different things. It's partly mysterious because I haven't been able to explore it from all angles. There are different projects or things coming out of it, and there are hidden facets that are perhaps still to be discovered. I don't know what kind of minerals or organisms are there. It's a teeming anthill traversing the space.
What are your future plans?
At the end of September there is the Ääniaalto Festival, and my work was selected in the program. It's called Aural Labyrinth. I would like to create an experiential room in the Oodi library, with walls made of sound alone. When you hit the wall, you hear a gentle or beautiful soundscape. You can't see the walls, and the only way to pass through the labyrinth is to find silence. The work makes you think about the role of sound and its impact on the society around you. When was the last time you were in a place that was truly silent?
In the future, I hope to be a versatile creative force, a bridge builder of sorts. Hopefully I will also be able to create my own works, whether they are digital or sculpted of glass. To have a voice. Voice brings meaning to your own work and existence. Through art and design, I can make people think and bring aesthetic experiences that speak to people through different means.
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Walk in my shoes
If you would like to share your story for the Walk in My Shoes series, please contact Tiina Aulanko-Jokirinne. Walk in my shoes is part of the Aalto Cultural Development project led by Carita Pihlman.