nimiia cétiï is an audiovisual work by Jenna Sutela using machine learning to generate a new written and spoken language. This language is based on the computer’s interpretation of a Martian tongue from the late 1800s, originally channeled by the French medium Hélène Smith and now voiced by Sutela, as well as the movement of Bacillus subtilis nattō, an extremophilic bacterium that, according to recent spaceflight experimentation, can survive on Mars. The machine, in this project, is a medium, channeling messages from entities that usually cannot speak. The work is also about intelligent machines as aliens of our creation.
nimiia cétiï was created in collaboration with Memo Akten and Damien Henry as part of n-dimensions, Google Arts & Culture’s artist-in-residence program at Somerset House Studios. Thanks to Kieran Bates from the Institute of Zoology at Imperial College London, Adam Laschinger for sound recordings, and Manus Nijhoff and Leïth Benkhedda for 3D work. The video includes music with Miako Klein in contrabass recorder and Shin-Joo Morgantini in flute, with sound production by Ville Haimala.
(images: Jenna Sutela, nimiia cétiï, film stills, courtesy of the artist)
Jenna Sutela works with words, sounds, and other living media, such as Bacillus subtilis nattō bacteria and the “many-headed” slime mold Physarum polycephalum. Her audiovisual pieces, sculptures, and performances seek to identify and react to precarious social and material moments, often in relation to technology. Sutela's work has been presented at museums and art contexts internationally, including Guggenheim Bilbao, Moderna Museet, Serpentine Galleries, and, most recently, Shanghai Biennale and Liverpool Biennial. She was a Visiting Artist at The MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology (CAST) in 2019-21.