Art / Design / Technology
AI can now help to decide what an ideal landscape picture looks like, Kuusta Saksi states
The Finnish Netherlands-based artist presents 10 years of work at Design Museum Helsinki.
29 May 2023

The main exhibition of Designmuseo’s 150th anniversary year, Kustaa Saksi: In the Borderlands, offers a comprehensive look at his past decade’s work with textile art. The pieces are somewhere between art and design, typical of the internationally influential genre of collectible design, and the Helsinki showcase includes new, seven-metre-long tapestries.

— I am inspired by the repeating patterns in nature and mathematical chaos, I get immersed in them and attempt to understand their essence. Afterwards, I simplify and modify them to include them into a visual world of my own, says Saksi.

A former graphic designer, he now creates these tapestries together with the Tillburg TextielMuseum, which has many different looms and machines for weaving and uses special computers to program the whole picture in the machine to create the works with programming.

— He designs things that he sees, says Minni Soverila, Communications Specialist, Design Museum Helsinki. For example, when he experiences a migraine attack, and then interprets them in his own visual language and uses the jacquard weave as his media.

— He’s particularly fascinated by weaves and the various twists and twines that are an inherent part of the textile techniques. One typical starting point for his works is stories. Stories often have plot twists, which resemble their intricate turns the complexity and precision of weaving. The tapestries weave together stories and techniques, says Suvi Saloniemi, Chief Curator at the Design Museum.

Minni Soverila, what do you think has made him so big?

— He has been working for a long time, which helps, as well as working outside of Finland as an international designer together with big brands (Hermès, Issey Miyake, Ferragamo, Lacoste, and Nike, Ed’s note), so that he has connections. But most of all, I’d say the reason is the unique, rich, and maximalist language in his works, which speaks loudly to us Finns since we are so used to minimalistic design.

To say the least.

— Yes. And in Finland, we have a very long history of weaving and tapestries — we are very attuned to this media. These old traditions are probably engraved in his ’cultural heritage’. He also has many, many nature themes, such as the forest and animals, and these things are very Finnish, so I think that he pulls from that source also. His interpretations of myths and mythology connect him not only to Finnish cultural heritage but also to many other cultures as well.

The exhibition also includes an ’AI artwork’. What can you say about it?

— He asked the AI what would be the ideal kind of landscape, and had a couple of different answers. But every time it had the common factor of a waterfall. That was constant. It didn’t matter how he put the wording and how he asked the questions — water was always a must. So he gathered all these bits and pieces and then translated them into his own visual language. He then combined them with very old mechanics of jacquard weaving in the work Ideal Fall, which was finished just before we opened the exhibition, Soverila concludes.