Timo Toots

Timo Toots is an interdisciplinary artist living and working in Estonia. His artistic research concentrates on the relationships between humans, technology and nature. His work is addressing the question of privacy in the surveillance society and role of nature in the technological era.

He has exhibited his works since 2006 in Europe, US and Asia. His works are found in private collections as well as in Estonian Art Museum and ZKM ( Zentrum für Kunst und Medien). In 2012 Toots won Ars Electronica Golden Nica for interactive arts.

In 2013 he founded farm for art and tech called Maajaam. Together with Mari-Liis Rebane they run a small art center in the wilderness of South Estonia. It has an artist-in-residency program and different workshops for all kinds of art. Around the farm they organize with a bigger team outdoor technological art exhibition Wild Bits.

On the side he also invents playful objects in his studio Masinism.

❖ Facts

Name: Timo Toots
Year of birth: 1982
Place of birth: Tartu, Estonia
Nationality: Estonian

✆ Contact

E-mail: 2024@timo.ee
Studio: Maajaam
Address: Ojaveere, Neeruti küla
Otepää Vald, 67505
Valgamaa, Estonia


Artist statement

In my artworks and other creative projects, I constantly keep an eye on the developments of our society, noticing changes in everyday life. Growing up in the system of the Soviet Union, going through the crazy 90s and also seeing the beginning of this century, there have been a lot of changes. Technological development has affected us almost imperceptibly, fusing us and technology more and more together. Many of the inventions from the science fiction books of my childhood have become commonplace and we have become cybernetic people.

The new cybernetic society also brings new challenges that, being constantly changing, affect our relationship with society and its forces. In my works, I try to bring out the invisible lines of forces through physical experiences. Dealing with virtual topics only with virtual means does not allow us to fully understand them as full flesh and blood human beings. Our bodily senses have evolved to understand the world around us. In my works, I try to create situations where virtual and physical environments collide and create new perspectives on difficult topics.

I have considered privacy to be an important topic, because it has become the currency of our era and the most important “mineral resource”. Virtual environments exploit our weaknesses by pushing the right buttons without us realizing it. Kafkaesque situations are often simultaneously dystopian and utopian, and choosing between them is difficult, but still possible. I think that using private data to manipulate people is not right, and I try to express it in my works.

Another important theme in my work is the environment around us - whether natural or created by us, global or local. Our relationship with the environment is complex and hides a lot that is invisible to the naked eye. Our daily small decisions combine into a big societal decision and have an impact on the natural environment. It is difficult to feel this effect as an individual, because the distance between the person and society and also nature is wide. In my works, I want to develop experiential presence and feeling of the world on different scales.

One way to address these issues is through critical artworks, installations in galleries and public spaces. Another way is to proactively create environments. Utopian thoughts can then be tested in reality and influence society in return, proposing a positive program. Environments make it possible to create new situations, relationships, social networks, generate new thoughts, while involving a wider group of people. Contributing to society also allows these problem areas to be unraveled with creative approaches. This kind of fantasy, the multiplicity of perspectives also provides inspiration for the development of broader social creativity. By being able to build our own environments and develop technology, we can create the kind of technology and society we want.

I do not limit my works by format, dimensions, material or even authorship. For me, it is interesting to create worlds that lead us to better perception of society and the environment.


⧉ Education

2005 - 2009 Estonian Academy of Arts (photography BA)
2008 - Exchange student in Iceland Academy of Arts (fine arts)
2007 - Exchange student in Karlsruhe HfG (media arts)
2001 - 2004 University of Tartu (computer science, not graduated)
1997 - 2001 Hugo Treffner Gymnasium

⊛ Prizes

2016 ADC*Estonia Broze in Digital Design for ERM museum exhibits
2012 Award from Cultural Endowment of Estonia
2012 Prix Ars Electronica Golden Nica in Interactive Art
2011 Nomination for Köler Prize
2008 2nd prize at Estonian Portrait Photography Contest
2006 1st prize at Estonian Sports Photography Contest

⦽ Ventures

2013 - Founder of farm of art and tech Maajaam
2012 - Workshop mentor for Estonian Academy of Arts
2011 - Founder of interaction design studio Masinism
2009 Internship in Argos Center of Art and Media, Brussels, Belgium
2004 - 2009 founder and photographer of youth culture magazine “Sahtel”
2001 - 2011 part of design and art collective D*Art

⌘ Solo exhibitions

2023 / Tartu Artist House / Tartu, Estonia
2014 / Le Lieu Unique / Nantes, France
2012 / Edith-Russ Haus / Oldenburg, Germany
2010 / Hobusepea Gallery / Tallinn, Estonia
2010 / Y-Gallery / Tartu, Estonia
2000 / Music Gallery DamTanDance / Tartu, Estonia

⌘ Curated exhibitions

2024 / Wild Bits 2024 / Maajaam, Estonia
2018 / Wild Bits 2018 / Maajaam, Estonia
2016 / public space / Tartu, Estonia
2015 / Maajaam / Neeruti, Estonia
2014 / Tartu Artist House / Tartu, Estonia

❖ Works in collections

2022 / Voronja Gallery / Varnja, Estonia
2020 / Estonian National Library / Tallinn, Estonia
2013 / KUMU Art Museum / Tallinn, Estonia
2013 / ZKM / Karlsruhe, Germany
2013 / private collection / Italy

⌘ Group exhibitions

2024 / Prima Vista / Tartu, Estonia
2022 / Raudondvaris / Kaunas, Lithuania
2021 / Tartu Artist House / Tartu, Estonia
2020 / Tallinas ielas kvartāls / Riga, Latvia
2020 / Estonian Road Museum / Varbuse, Estonia
2020 / Kondase Keskus / Viljandi, Estonia
2019 / Tartu Nature House / Tartu, Estonia
2019 / ISEA 2019 / Gwangju, South Korea
2019 / Voronja Gallery / Varnja, Estonia
2019 / Cesis Brewery / Cesis, Latvia
2019 / Estonian Museum of Applied Arts & Design / Tallinn, Estonia
2018 / public space / Tartu Valgus Festival / Tartu, Estonia
2018 / KUMU Art Museum / Tallinn, Estonia
2018 / Tallinn Art Week / Noblessner Shipyard / Tallinn, Estonia
2017 / European Parliament / Brussels, Belgium
2016 / Mooste Seed Sorting factory / Mooste, Estonia
2015 / ZKM / Karlsruhe, Germany
2015 / Estonian Pavilion / Milan, Italy
2015 / Tartu Art Museum / Tartu, Estonia
2014 / Ii Biennale of Northern Environmental and Sculpture Art / Ii, Finland
2014 / City Gallery / Võru, Estonia
2014 / Survival kit 6 / Riga, Latvia
2013 / KUMU / Tallinn, Estonia
2013 / Museum for Communication / Frankfurt, Germany
2013 / Temp Gallery / New York, USA
2013 / Kleine Humboldt Gallery / Berlin, Germany
2012 / House of Electronic Arts / Basel, Switzerland
2012 / Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova museum / Turku, Finland
2012 / La Gaîté Lyrique / Paris, France
2012 / Liste Art Fair / Basel, Switzerland
2012 / Prix Ars Electronica / Linz, Austria
2012 / KUMU / Tallinn, Estonia
2012 / Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia / Tallinn, Estonia
2012 / Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia / Tallinn, Estonia
2011 / Moscow Biennale / Moscow, Russia
2011 / KUMU / Tallinn, Estonia
2011 / Gallery of Design and Architecture / Tallinn, Estonia
2011 / public space / Tallinn, Estonia
2011 / Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia / Tallinn, Estonia
2011 / CAC / Vilnius, Lithuania
2011 / European Media Art Festival / Osnabrück, Germany
2010 / City Gallery / Tallinn, Estonia
2009 / Leigo Lake Music Festival / Leigo, Estonia
2009 / Estonia Concert Hall / Tallinn, Estonia
2009 / Gallery of Estonian Academy of Arts / Tallinn, Estonia
2009 / Art Depoo / Tallinn, Estonia
2008 / Vaal Gallery / Tallinn, Estonia
2007 / Tallinn University Academic Library / Tallinn, Estonia
2007 / Artist House / Tartu, Estonia
2007 / Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia / Tallinn, Estonia
2007 / Art House / Tartu, Estonia
2007 / Vaal Gallery / Tallinn, Estonia
2006 / Los Patrankos / Kaunas, Lithuania
2006 / Manege Central Exhibition Hall / St. Petersburg, Russia
2006 / Tartu Kaubamaja / Tartu, Estonia
2006 / SERDE - The Center For Interdisciplinary Art / Aizpute, Latvia