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Nature Observations and Video Art in the North

Aerial view from Vuontisjärvi, September 2021. Picture: Satu Miettinen

The most beautiful autumn colours were surrounding us as we drove from Inari to Karigasniemi and Utsjoki along the river Deatnu, and back to Inari again. It was towards the end of September 2021, and we were on the road with our team: Arto Saijets and Marina Falevitch from the Sámi Education Institute, and Mari Viinikainen and myself from the University of Lapland

We had several stops along the way, among them a visit to Mikkola by the river Inari – the home place of the family of Arto’s mother – and Lake Vuontisjärvi at which Arto’s lávvu is located. In Utsjoki, we had the opportunity to interview Jouni Laiti, a master builder of traditional Deatnu river boats.

One of the motivations for the trip was to make nature observations through using a drone to get an aerial view of the locations we visited, and continue working with place-making we started in January 2021. Nature and the natural environment change a great deal with the seasons: When we had last visited Inari, Utsjoki and Pulmankijärvi, the landscape was snow-clad and we were experiencing temperatures of around -20°C and colder.

The drone allows us to access the landscape in new ways – to get an aerial view and a wider perspective of it. It also allows to put us humans in perspective with nature: On drone footage we appear small in size, as tiny parts of nature and the landscape.

Lake Vuontisjärvi is surrounded by heath forest and the ground is covered by a layer of dry and very soft lichen cloth. Autumn colours can be observed in the deciduous foliage as well as on the ground. The drone footage shows us trees reflected on the water’s surface. Several buildings belonging to Mikkola are located on the riverside. One can see the difference between dark green coniferous trees such as spruce and pine, and deciduous trees such as birch. A particularly interesting sight in this landscape are silver birches with their pendulous twigs. This video is documenting these environments.

It is very inspirational to do an artistic performance in a landscape that is extraordinarily beautiful and looks different with the changing seasons. In Inari, Mari Viinikainen and I used a drone and a handheld camera to film ourselves in the landscape, caressing rocks and trees by the Juutuankoski rapids. This video combines two performances: one from Inari and one from the Vänö island in the Archipelago Sea.

One topic I have worked on during this project is place-making. This has involved working with nature observations and artistic performance. This video presents a larger collection of different performances.

Text, videos and pictures: Satu Miettinen, University of Lapland.

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