André Kultanen’s artistic approach to a video diary series has created an elaborate and comprehensive visual gallery on TikTok (@aak.ward). Featuring cinematic clips of his daily life paired with music, André not only communicates his own emotions but also speaks to a universal subject of the human experience. Learn more about him and his video series in our latest feature.
Tell us a bit about yourself…
AK: I’m André and I photograph and create short films or videos about me. I'm 23 years old, and I live in Helsinki. I have no background or studies relating to my "artistic outings", it started from pure passion.I also collect and curate an art collection which mainly focuses on Finnish art glass from the late 60s and early 70s.
Tell us about your video diary series and how it started…
AK: My video project started on the 6th of November, I felt like I was stuck, I didn't have a positive outlook on life and I didn't feel like myself. I thought alot about life before the starting date, I felt like the "magic" was lost, that everything was the same. I knew that I had to change my perspective on everything so I started with the easiest thing for me at the time- just looking around. I found beauty in small "everyday moments"; the way the light reflects off a window, a bird flying by, people enjoying themselves - everything depended on my perspective. I wanted to document these moments for three reasons: to see that not everything is the same, to force myself to actually do and commit to something and actually have some accountability to follow through with the project.
At first the video diary started just as small collages or visual "mood boards' which I tried to put together in a visually pleasing way. I did this for about a month, but I started feeling like this wasn't enough - I wanted to process my feelings and thoughts and everything about my life. I still feel like I have so many feelings, memories and thoughts that I want to show the world.
The project has a much stronger narrative now, I've almost transformed into a character processing the hardships and feelings which I have felt through my life. I try to convey the narrative through visual storytelling and a "strong feeling" - if I'm processing something 'sad' I want you to truly feel it in your bones.
I didn't start the project as an 'art project' yet many say that it is, or that they look at the videos as art - I'm extremely humbled as I feel that art is about the collective human experience and how the 'masses' look at it, not about the 'artist' classifying their work as art.
I don't follow traditional methods or use the 'common' methods out there for storytelling. I do everything by myself, searching for the 'right' feeling in every aspect; light, shadow, composition, movement, perspective etc.
Are your video diaries more for yourself or for a greater audience?
AK: In the beginning it was only for myself, now that the project has changed it is for everyone who sees them. I still make them for myself, and hence, I don't think about others looking at the videos. I feel that staying true to yourself is the most important thing - in an endless sea of creators and artists the only unique thing about me is me.
Video: André Kultanen
What do you take inspiration from? Is it from a place, a person, an object, or something intangible?
AK: I take inspiration from my own life, my own feelings, memories and thoughts. Yet the most impactful inspiration is finding the right music/tune to create the right atmosphere for my workflow. The 'feeling' is what I work from, I have to 'feel it' otherwise it is almost impossible for me to create something meaningful. It might seem self-centered but diaries or journals are the epitome of self-centeredness; few do them for the 'public eye'.
Your work dominantly presents itself on social media platforms (like TikTok). How do you think your work and artistic pursuits would differ if you didn’t use social media as your “gallery”?
AK: I would feel a bit more free, using social media as a platform for an artistic project has been really hard. It is hard to not see a video as an extension of my 'self-worth' as I pour so much of myself into them. If a video doesn't 'do good' I find myself struggling with feelings of self-doubt.
Doing this for example in a gallery setting, and projecting the film for an hour every day, or until the next one is ready would feel easier, because there aren't any numbers being constantly shown to me. But, I'm sure that I wouldn't push myself as much, I wouldn't have the same drive to constantly evolve and get better.
Video: André Kultanen
How have you managed to stay consistent with your video series? Would you say there is a greater driving force that pushes you to continue creating them?
AK: In the beginning it was easier to do the videos as it was more like a random collage of clips put together into a longer video. Now it is hard, but rewarding, I've done this everyday for over 5 months now, I feel like it has become a part of my routine, I carry a camera everywhere I go, I think about different compositions as I'm doing other things, I think about different ideas when I'm at work or uni. It has become a part of me. The feedback from people all around the world is truly motivating, I feel like I'm helping others and that gives me an extra 'push' when I need it.
Your videos feel incredibly personal yet simultaneously universal–as if they speak to the human experience. Is this an intentional feeling you aim to evoke?
AK: The feelings which we share are the same: sadness, joy, love, hate, longing, emptiness are all universal markers of our collective experience. My reasons for being sad might be different from yours, but the feelings which we feel are similar.
My videos are personal, as they are mine, I'm the character which you see on your screen, but you feel or 'see' the feeling which I feel. I'm vulnerable and open, I don't hide anything, I say and show how I feel or how I have felt and I think more people should try and be more open, but that probably also makes my videos even more personal. You (the viewer) are getting a glimpse into my personal diary and I'm truly glad that some find comfort in seeing that they're not alone, so I guess in a way it is intentional even though it happens randomly.
Keep up to date with André and explore more of his work below.