Mika Taanila belongs to the first generation of young artists who began studying video art at a time when the independent video sector began to emerge alongside traditional filmmaking and even more traditional television work. Taanila studied video at the Institute of Design of the Lahti Polytechnic from 1989–92. He has also studied cultural anthropology at Helsinki University.
Taanila has designed and directed documentaries as well as music videos. The core of his documentary work is the ‘Science & Progress’ trilogy consisting of Robocup99 (1999, 25:00, 35 mm), Futuro – A New Stance for Tomorrow (1998, 29:00, 35 mm) and Thank You for the Music (1997, 24:00, 35mm), each of which investigate, from its own angle, the development of technology into an integral part of our society. The films are media archaeological treasures, unearthing the foundations of what we call the media society.
Taanila has shown his work and won awards at several video and film festivals both in Finland and abroad. For example, his work Birdy placed fifth in MTV Europe’s music video competition. His documentary Futuro won the first prize in the national competition at Tampere Film Festival in 1999, and Thank You For The Music a special prize in 1997. He was also awarded a special prize in 2000 at Internationaler Medien Kunstpreis, the largest media art competition in Europe.
Taanila is also an active expert in the sphere of audiovisual culture, and he is the director of Avanto, the most important festival in the field in Finland.