LANDSCAPE AS A BORDER ZONE, MAN AS A PAWN

In many ways Janne Laine is in between as an artist. He is not only an artist, but also a professional printer, a graphic artist as well as a photographer. His works have the visual appearance of photographs. Many people find out only from the frames and signatures that they actually are graphic works. Janne Laine’s favourite technique is heliogravure, which combines the best qualities of photography and printmaking. The image is exposed onto a copper plate, after which the plate is etched and printed the same way as in other graphical methods. This technique enables photographs to be transferred softly and a with matt finish onto a thich and porous paper. ”For me it’s not important that the outcome looks like a graphic work as such. I’d rather have it express a… state of mind.”

Exposures in network

Janne Laine wants to see his images as parts of a larger story. Therefore, he usually exhibits his works in series. ”A single shot doesn’t necessarily reveal any significant information. Perhaps the main action takes place somewhere outside the picture. As if the pictures were stills taken of a movie still in making.” Laine has photographed his friends and printed them larger than life-size, portraying them as rather ordinary people with staring, vacant eyes. He is fascinated by people’s relationships to one another, to their environment and the space in general. Also the questions of identity are important to him. The women in his pictures may look hard and masculine, whereas the men may appear extremely sensual. A couple may consist of two men or two women. ”In the network of people one relationship affects another, identities can be lost or changed into something else.”

In the work called ”Domina”, constructed according to the Domino board game, Laine turned the pictures of his friends into pawns. Viewers were allowed to move these pawns on the table and make combinations according to their own wishes. ”Every one of us plays games, either subconsciously or on purpose. People also form links, make connections both in good and bad.”

Pictures from other places

Janne Laine is not interested in familiar landscapes loaded with too many meanings. ”Abroad, in foreign surroundings, I see nature very differently. Different feelings come to my mind” he says. ”When I travel to a new place, it’s like watching a film. I look at the place as an outsider and start taking pictures of it. Nothing is stable. It’s like being in a safari, I just let myself go.””At some later point I perhaps realize what was the thing that set me in action.” When one looks at Janne Laine’s works, one is reminded of the classics of Romantic landscape painting, such as the works of Caspar David Friedrich. In Friedrich’s works the lonely traveller merges into a landscape, and Laine has something similar in his works:”When I experience a place, I’m alone in direct contact with that place and situation. It’s a very private moment in the border zone between visible and invisible, understanding and emotion.” For Laine it doesn’t matter in what corner of the world he takes his pictures.”Landscapes have existed before mankind and they will survive us. I believe that there is a certain fundamental undercurrent flowing everywhere. You just have to reach a state of such alienation that you feel its presence. Being alone is an important catalyst.”

Laine feels that landscape sometimes has an ability to reveal deep feelings as well as veil them. Transformation and travelling also represent the subtle balance between life and death. ”I can dive into the midst of steam and volcanic vapors and from that transitional state between solid and immaterial I try to find some answers to the questions which cannot be put into words. You either experience them or not.”

Silence and suffering

In a heliogravure technique Janne Laine likes working in the dark room and dealing with various acids. ”A photograph in my works is born indirectly through acids and effects. I steer the process to certain direction, but I never really know what ultimately comes out of the final picture. There is chance and excitement in the air.” In this work phase Janne Laine is benefitted from his extensive knowlegde of the technical possibilities of various graphical methods. In addition to heliogravure he uses aquatint, sulphur etching, photo polymer gravure and plate grinding. Before he even starts preparing his plate Janne Laine has gone through extensive mindwork. ”I aim at creating a picture as minimalistic as possible with a certain Zen-mentality. I want to take the unnecessary out of my pictures.” Laine finds the use of colour difficult, because it creates such strong effects. ”There is colour in my pictures, but it is sort of hiding somewhere there.”

With the instinct of a raccoon dog

After getting his first camera Janne Laine played traditional nature photographer.”I decided that I won’t take pictures of people. Also, the idea of portraying sceneries as landscapes was somewhat impossible for me. Now I dare approach people and take pictures of landscapes, when I show them reflected through my mind.” Janne Laine admits that he makes pictures mainly for himself. ”There might be difficult, private issues in my works. It’s enough for me if there is one visitor to my exhibition who comes afterwards to tell me that he/she has found something in my pictures. It’s a nice addition to the fact that I have already found something there.” Laine’s biggest dream is to find a place where he could leave everything behind and just experience silence. ”I’m not religious, but there are some silent moments when you become aware that things do have a starting point and an ending.” Extremely tranquil pictures and hectic way of life are Janne Laine’s ways of balancing his life. If the work accumulates or if he is pressed for time, Janne Laine has his ways to survive.”If I’m under stress, I’m like a raccoon dog. When its life is threatened, it falls asleep. And if the threat is still there when it wakes up, it goes right back to sleep. This way you end up having no excess free time and you get to do all the necessary things quite efficiently.”