Moving from photography to moving images, wasn’t as easy as it seemed

Yuhsuan Harjula is a media and art student in TAMK. She is from Taiwan and now resides in Tampere, Finland. She became interested in photography as a kid, however, the environment was not supportive. After moving to Finland, her ex-spouse supported her in pursuing the possibilities to study in art and photography.

Yuhsuan is most interested in photography. At the moment she is exploring moving images in the Fine Art field.

Who are you and where are you from? Tell us your story.

My name is Yuhsuan and I’m from Taiwan. I came to Finland in 2012. I applied to TAMK quite many times until I finally got accepted in 2019. I am currently a first-year Fine Art student.

How is it to be a student at TAMK?

I enjoy almost every moment of studying at TAMK. The atmosphere is positive and inspiring. The contact lectures offer students a lot of space for discussions and sharing ideas. This is a very important learning experience for me and I enjoy almost every moment of studying here.

What are your interests at the moment regarding your creative process?

At the moment I am taking the Moving Image minor. I have been creating mostly short videos, video art is relatively new to me, as photography has always been my main tool. 

The Metamorphosis is the title of my first video. My skills developed tremendously while making this project. I was very curious to work with videos because of its apparent similarity to photography. However, it was surprising to discover how different they are. One of my courses from the Moving Image minor is Video Installations where we are exploring new possibilities of how to play and use moving images. I will definitely continue focusing on creating video art. 

Why did you choose to participate in iWeek? 

I see iWeek as a learning experience of letting go. I am very scared of criticism so my easy solution was always to not show my works to anyone. I see iWeek as kind of like my first step in the process of “growing up.”

Tell us more details about the projects that you submitted for iWeek. How much time did it take to create them? How did it all happen? 

The projects I am exhibiting in iWeek are the works I created during the courses; two triptychs and four shorts videos; two group works and two personal projects.

The process of making a photograph doesn’t take too long, but to come up with the concept and to create the scene, poses, stories, those all take time.

I’m relatively new to filming and editing so each video work takes at least 2-3 weeks of work, including the additional edits after the class feedback. Sometimes some projects are left “in the corner”  for a couple of months before re-editing them. 

To give you an example, with The Metamorphosis at some point I didn’t want to edit anymore. I was feeling completely stuck and I decided to leave it for a while and finish it later. I think the new version gives more flow to the story and makes more sense than the original. I also made big changes – I changed the music and now it makes much more sense to me.

I am quite a passive person so being in class, having tasks and deadlines keep me very motivated and full of energy.

What are you hoping for people to understand from your project? 

My projects are usually about my personal experiences. Yellow, for example, is about my struggle of living in a foreign country. Looking different from the others can become quite intimidating and I hope people can relate and understand more the immigrants’ efforts, fears, and despair.

Did you encounter any difficulties in finding the motivation to create in the last few weeks?

Yes, yes, yes, yes.

My biggest frustration at the moment is being unable to access the school’s equipment. I try to not go out too often and participating in group productions is anyway impossible so it is quite hard for me to create any videos during this period. Also, when creating a video I tend to look for specific locations. Under this lockdown, the options become somehow limited.

But, looking at it from another perspective, it is, of course, a new creative challenge.

On the other hand, to be honest, it is very nice to be able to relax for a while. TAMK for me implies having quite a full schedule. Students are always working on some projects. 

I think people should look at the COVID-19 situation quite seriously. It is indeed hard and even way worse than most people thought. We must learn how to cherish and enjoy this isolation moment.

Where do you find inspiration when creating your work? 

Well, for example, my work Yellow was inspired by Shirin Neshat. Her two-channel works  Turbulent and Rapture truly inspired me. Another part of the video was inspired by the movie American Beauty’s plastic bag video. I wanted to create the feeling of being unreachable. I’ve used a white sheet that plays the role of a border but also for visual reasons.

The idea of a triptych came from Francesca Woodman during a course named Contemporary Art Methods. In that course, we got familiar with the most well known contemporary artists and Woodman’s work and life story made me unveil some past experiences I’ve been burying for a long time.

After the Introduction to Fine Art Photography course, I became even more fascinated by the idea of the triptych so I decided to give it a try and play with it. I think I will keep on extending this project in the future.

How does your future look like?

In the future my wish is to learn more about video art, moving images and installations.

The Moving Image minor has truly inspired me and I want to create more!

Digital art is without doubts a big part of the now and the future so I also want to explore more the technical side of filming and digital moving images. Another interest of mine would be to create more sustainability-related works, but now I feel it is important to polish my skills 

It’s only the first year and I have a long long way to go!


An interview with Yuhsuan Harjula conducted by Luiza Preda, edited by Isabella Presnal.

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