photo: 'Block That Chain' worklab, Graz, October 2019. It's way more fun than it looks, I promise!

This episode of the Serious Introspection audio podcast talks with several members of the block that chain worklab that I participated in in Graz, Austria. block that chain is a week-long worklab hosted by the wonderful to explore the questions, problems, and deeper issues behind blockchain technology. I was delighted to be part of this, as it drew together a mix of artists, hackers, musicians, theorists, and sociologists for an intensive programme to utilise our expertise and perspectives.

The week had no shortage of theoretical discussions which touched on ethics, economics, and technology, while provided me a much-needed alternative viewpoint –– or rather, viewpoints –– to most media coverage of blockchain issues, which is primarily dominated by finance and tech industry reporting, or else kneejerk alarmism. Some participants created software to visualise and sonificate online discourse on the topic; others worked on theoretical models for future projects or developed existing tools.

I'm still formulating my own thoughts about blockchain after this week, especially in relation to my past work with Biathlon; I'll  likely write something soon in the new issue of Acedia. In the meantime, if you are interested in blockchain technology (even if you feel negative towards the hype), you might find some stimulating and fun ideas in the podcast. I talk with Martin Schitter, Bailey Keogh, Michael Mastrototaro, Jurij Smrke and Goran Bečirevič.

Here are links to the guests and topics mentioned during the discussions:

Martin Schitter [02:15]:

Bailey Keogh [21:26]:

Michael Mastrototaro [40:45]:

Jurij Smrke / Goran Bečirevič [59:29]




photo: the host + the guest, sometime in 2004 or 2005.

I dusted off the microphones to record the first Serious Introspection audio podcast in over two years. Sadly, the occasion was the passing of David Berman, poet and musician, whose death has affected me immensely. I called up Andy, a comedy writer and proper podcaster based in Los Angeles, to talk about Berman's work and what he meant to us and to so many others.

Even if you weren't a Silver Jews fan, you might enjoy our conversation. We talk about public mourning, avatars of America, the America that never existed, Otherness and art, irony and honesty, Judaism, propagating values through culture, support systems, kindness, empathy for the MAGA, and the quality of light on the West coast. Notes and links relating to our discussion appear below. 

Andy Beckerman / Beginnings podcast / Couples Therapy podcast


There's some cliché about old dogs and new tricks that I always mangle, but clichés are better when stated incorrectly. It's been over three years since I (John) hosted a regular live talk show with Justin and Ernest, but we brought the act out again for a special reunion performance at the Nida Art Colony's ninth inter-format symposium, 'On the Fluidity of Humour and Absurdity' in Nida, Lithuania. It was fun to do it again, and we were joined by guest Dafna Maimon, old friend Vytautas Michelkevičius, and some random people from the audience. This was presented as the 'lounge' event after a long day of art symposium presentations, performances, and talks, so the audience, all crowded into a small room with a bunch of absurdly constructed furniture courtesy of Justin, was pretty exhausted. But yet a stronger sense of anarchy existed here than at any of our performances in Finland; at least audience members took to the stage, someone fell through a table, and someone tried to set me on fire.

Anyway, here it is. We didn't have the full A/V resources of Mad House available, but we did the best we could, and the first 25 minutes or so are pretty fun at least. I meant what I said –– that the world doesn't need another show of three white men on stage –– and thus I don't think we are likely to bring back the show any time soon, if ever. (Though we remain available for hire, for private events). 

Serious Introspection returns!

posted 21 June 2019

For the first time in three years, Serious Introspection will convene, this time at the Nida Art Colony 9th Inter-format Symposium. The full lineup of host John, hype man Justin, and meta-media specialist Ernest will be there, as part of the Error Collective 'lounge' on Saturday, 29 June. The theme of the symposium is absurdity and humour, so I don't really understand why they invited a show about seirous introspection. Anyway, the symposium is a closed event so there's little point in advertising it here, but we'll try to videorecord and post it, just like the old days.

SI audio podcast #2: Girilal Baars

posted 06 August 2016

My pal Girilal stopped by Helsinki last month and we recorded this conversation, which touched on science fiction, improvisation, being an audience member, and lots more. This is also an attempt to keep the SI podcast feed alive with some occasional content, as enough interesting people pass through my life that I should try to share their ideas with a larger audience.

Detailed notes will follow but you can subscribe to this feed via iTunes (which will be audio-only for the time being) and get more information about the whole SI concept via

Girilal's website is


For the last episode of Serious Introspection, filmed on 13 April 2016, we did a short set as the opening act of the 2016 Lal Lal Lal festival. But first, we brought Marianna Keisalo (last seen in S02E01 back on stage to catch-up on her life as the hardest working standup comedienne/anthropologist in Helsinki. Marijn aka Red Brut was up next, and then we welcomed the Mental Alaska group, organisers of the Lal Lal Lal fest, to officially open the festival and officially close out Serious Introspection.

I don't know if this is the end of the regular weekly shows for sure but at least for the time being - it's an exhausting experience! Keep subscribed to the podcast feed for future audio-only episodes and any occasional one-offs we may end up doing. And I must remind you that SI Services is available to hire for your party, wedding, bar mitzvah or other corporate event.

Thanks again to Mad House for allowing two seasons of this silliness as well as Justin Tyler Tate (the O.G. Hype Man), Ernest Truely (our meta-media specialist), Lotta Blomberg (SI videographer) and Joosep Tormis (our sound sherpa).


It was great to have Tuukka Asplund fill in as Hype Man for the last two episodes of Serious Introspection's second season. In episode 7, we first welcomed the inimitable Olaf Möller to discuss his approach to teaching cinema, Finnish cinema, and some childhood memories. Then we welcomed the equally inimatble Mari Keski-Korsu to talk a bit about her work, the forthcoming 2016 Pixelache Festival, and to demonstrate her study of Baltic sauna whisking techniques. We additionally celebrated this being our last "full" episode, sang a tribute to Justin, and reviewed some festival experiences together with Ernest. And we tried to phone my parents, but they didn't answer. This episode took place way back on the 6th of April, 2016.

SI at IHME episodes 5 and 6

posted 17 July 2016


And finally, the last two episodes of Serious Introspection from April's IHME Päivät festival in Helsinki. These shows were both recorded on 3 April and we moved the outdoor concept indoors due to bad weather. The first show is a roundtable discussion with a handful of young artists who were part of the Marathon event that evening: Nestori Syrjälä, Pekka and Teija Isorättyä, and Eero Yli-Vakkuri (joined by Ernest and Justin of course). The final episode was with manifesto reader Hannu Väisänen and bonus guest Inga Lace.

SI at IHME episodes 3 and 4

posted 20 June 2016


The second day of IHME Päivät, 2 April 2016, found us again hosting two episodes of Serious Introspection. The first of the day found busker Stephen Paul Taylor and festival keynote speaker Jan Verwoert meeting for a lively outdoor interview. For the second interview, we moved inside due to weather and spoke with Päivi Raivio and Robin Ellis, leaders of the poster sceening workshop, the great Pierre Bastien, and curator Hamza Walker.

SI at IHME episodes 1 and 2

posted 05 June 2016


Here are the first two shows from the IHME Päivät festival, which took place in early April 2016 in Helsinki. We set up these shows outside, on the 'stage' next to Vanha where the festival was taking place, and throughout the weekend interviewed a variety of festival participants hoping to promote it to the general public. On Friday, the first show was with Pontus Kyander and Aleksis Salusjärvi, and later we had a very cold session (temperature-wise) with festival director Paula Toppila and IHME 2016 artist Katerina Seda. These interviews are a bit of a different flavour than what we normally did during the Mad House shows but showcase the work of our for-profit division, SI Services (available for hire for your party, wedding, bar mitzvah or corporate event).

Thanks againt to the IHME organisers and the guests!


Serious Introspection actually ended awhile ago, but due to general life commitments I've been way behind on getting the videos edited and posted. So with many apologies, here is the belated episode 6 of season two, which actually took place way back in March. I had the flu and almost canceled the show, but instead I turned up and let Justin take charge, and this turned out to be either the best or worst episode ever depending on your taste. My old friend Hanna Tuulikki, from the UK, was in town to talk about her residency at Saari, and Kimmo Modig came up to help carry the show since I was pretty much delirious. 

Check out iTunes feed for the rest of the shows; we will post this as well as the six mini-shows from April's IHME Päivät festival and the two final ones with Tuukka as hype man - just as soon as I finish editing them!

SI at IHME Päivät 2016

posted 02 April 2016

Posting this a bit late, but we are hosting Serious Introspection shows as part of the 2016 IHME Päivät festival, in Vanha Ylioppilastalo (Mannerheimintie 3). Yesterday we did our first two shows and we follow with two today and two tomorrow. These shows are taking place on the 'stage' outside, in the Kaivopiha area immediately to the left of Vanha (or out the back door of the café). Ernest will be accentuating Justin and I as usual with his tweets, and we will post these as fast as we can edit them. 

The remaining schedule is:

Saturday 2.4 15:00: with Jan Verwoert and Stephen Paul Taylor

Saturday 2.4 19:15: with Päivi Raivio, Robin Ellis and Hamza Walker

Sunday 3.4 14:30: with Eero Yli-Vakkuri, Nestori Syrjälä, Pekka and Teija Isorättyä

Sunday 3.4 16:30: with Hannu Väisänen


We've been a bit behind schedule on editing videos, but here is the video from episode 5, which took place on 23 March 2016. Our guests were 110% (Lachlan and Beth), Marek Pluciennik, and the mysterious Mirva. Agnieszka also joined to talk about our trip to Prague. We had some live performance art, and we talked about film and depression too. Ernest sent in a travel report from Madrid, too.

We'll have the most recent episode edited next week, as well as a slew of shorter episodes from the IHME festival.




Serious Introspection season 2, episode 4 took place on Wednesday, 16 March 2016 at Ihana Baari in Helsinki and featured Tuukka Asplund and Kira O'Reilly as guests. We talked about life in Helsinki, ecology and trans-disciplinary approaches to performance, British complaint culture, and the value of making stuff or not. Also, we sang some karaoke, went to Estonia, tried to call Ernest, and spoke again with my parents.

Episode 5 is next Wednesday, 23 March, and will feature Marek Pluciennik, the artist group 110%, and a completely random person from last week's audience who volunteered to be a guest next time, who I know nothing about. As always we thank our host Mad House Helsinki and remind you that Serious Introspection will be appearing throughout the IHME Päivät festival in Helsinki, 1-3 April, live on the street.


After some delay (sorry, I am lazy when it comes to my video editing responsibilities), here is season 2, episode 3 from 1 March 2016. Martina Marti was on first to discuss her work Reverie with Gnab Collective, as well as the general balance of being an artirst vs. and administrator, and the different approaches to these topics. Then we had Juuso Paaso, who has been working with the Oranssi Pienlehtiarkisto, here talking about zine culture in Finland and his digitisation efforts.

In addition, Justin and I settled some beef, Juuso and I sang a Daniel Johnston song, and I did a STRONG FIVE about the Uberman Sleep Schedule. Ernest provided his tweets, seen here on-screen and followable @room4error via #SeriousIntrospection.

Episode 4 is tomorrow (16 March( with Kira O'Reilly and Tuukka Asplund. And just a reminder, Serious Introspection is subscribable via iTunes as well.


This week we had Juha Valkeapää to talk about his production 2341 AD, and Malin Gustavsson who explained a bit about her work as a diversity consultant. We also channeled the spirit of a country and western supergroup, phoned John's parents, and met the Pope Urban VII of Mad House Helsinki. As always, it couldn't happen without Justin Tyler Tate (world's best hype man), Ernest Truely (follow @room4error!), video master Lotta Blomberg, and sound master Joosep Tormis.

Tomorrow (2 March) is episode 3, with Juuso Paaso to talk about Finnish zine culture, and Martina Marti from the GNAB Collective's Reverie performance-installation. Serious Introspection is part of the Mad House Helsinki third season.


We started the new season of Serious Introspection last week at Mad House, and we came back strong (I hope). Guests were standup comedienne/anthropologist Marianna Keisalo, Kosminen and Khaos Publishing's Helen Korpak and Iina Esko, and Brasilian artist Paola de Ramos. We debuted some new segments, enjoyed the strange glow of a 4:3 aspect ratio projector, and enjoyed seeing the audience again. Plus, balls.

Here is the video for your enjoyment, featuring embedded tweets courtesy of Ernest (@room4error).

We're off next week but we'll be back on the 24th for a special #ErrEvening night, and also with guest Juha Valkeapää! SI videos are also available as a Podcast via iTunes or Stitcher.

We're back for a second season of Serious Introspection, which will now take place on Wednesdays, a bit later. The show is planned to start roughly at 21:00, but may occasionally run a bit earlier or later depending on the Mad House programme on each particular night. We start next week and run until 13 April, but with no shows on 17.2 or 9.3. The full schedule can be seen on the Mad House website.

Additionally, this Friday (5.2) we'll be doing a little short bit of hosting during the Mad House season 3 opening party - we'll go on around 20:00 and interview Heikki Saure and Juha Valkeapää and some others. 

Other Serious Introspection news: We are proud to be invited to this year's IHME Päivät festival, 1-3 April in Helsinki, where Serious Introspection will be part of the 'visibility' component. We will host two short talk shows per day, live on the street. during the festival. And we will hopefully be hosting two or three shows during this year's Supermarket Art Fair in Stockholm, 21-24 April.

Our official website is for videos (as they are made), news,  and other announcements.

Serious Introspection episode 8

posted 01 December 2015

Here's the last episode of Serious Introspection, which was by far the best one (from my perspective, at least). We had a large and hungry audience and great guests and a real spirit of absurdity. Guests were Nikos Doulous and some of the Mad House working group (Heidi Backström, Mirva Pulkkinen and Annika Tudeer); also included were statistical analysis, Minor Threat karaoke, and the one-time-only appearance of the 'What is John learning in (an) art school?' segment. We closed with a smashing music video/clip show.

Thanks again to everyone at Mad House - those on stage, Juha Valkeapää, and everyone else - and to Kimmo Modig who launched this enterpise in the first place. We'll be back for Mad House's third season, beginning in February, and we'll post more details as we know them. In the meantime, we are available to be hired for parties, bar mitzvahs and other events via the SI Services enterprise, and you can check out our new standalone website for Serious Introspection here

Serious Introspection episode 7

posted 20 November 2015

Here is this week's episode, with Tero Nauha, Milla Koistinen, Salka Gudmundsdóttir and impromptu guest Tuukka Asplund. We passed out feedback forms to the audience, and you can fill this out online here. Even if you have never attended a live episode and only watched these, we appreciate your feedback!

We were without a sound man for the third consecutive week but did not have Ilpo to save the day, so all of the mics are really hot and the soundboard mix sounded worse than the camera mixes. I tried the best I could with post-processing but this episode is again really hard to listen to. I apologise immensely and almost didn't post this video at all, but figured some bad-sounding documentation is better than nothing.

On Tuesday is our final show! We will have some Mad House staff as guests to look back over this season and share our thoughts, dreams, and reflections. Plus, we'll have segments as chosen by you (via the feedback forms!) and some surprises. 

Serious Introspection episode 6

posted 11 November 2015

Episode six brought together Jaakko Blomberg of Yhteismaa and Ossi Koskelainen, Ilpo Heikkinen & Emmi Venna of the Post-MJ Era Institute of Consciousness. We discussed legacy, openness, social boundaries, memories, divorce, and shark costumes. I unsuccessfully tried to get rid of a Gertrude Stein book, played Michael Jackson trivia, and saw St. Elmo's Fire spitting ions in the ether.

Hey, sorry, we had some tech difficulties again. More camera fuckups and the audio feed was missing some mics, so I had to mix in some camera sound and it's not optimal. I promise we'll get back on track next week, when our trusted technical supervisor will be back. Tero Nauha will be there to talk about his book launch, and we'll try some other hijinks. There's only two episodes left so if you're in Helsinki, please come along!

We're also pleased to announce that Serious Introspection is now available in "podcast" form from the iTunes store. Thanks also to Mad House for letting us do this show in the first place, and please don't miss the rest of Mad House's 2nd season programme!

Those of you who saw Matthew Goulish on my show last week (or on the video here) know how much I admire his writing and approach to art and performance. I wanted to talk further with him (and with Lin Hixson, who didn't come on stage during episode 5) while they were in Helsinki, so we recorded a conversation which is presented here in podcast format. We'll try to put Serious Introspection podcasts up when it makes sense. Among the topics discussed were interruptions, reversing course, limitations, permission, fear, comfort zones, walking across the room 10000 times, respect, skepticism, dogma, generosity, and peripheral consciousness.

Notes, references and links:

Serious Introspection episode 5

posted 06 November 2015

It's the TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES episode! With our trusted sound man in Estonia we had to figure it out ourselves, mainly, 'where do they store the microphones?' and thus we started a half-hour late, and I was agitated throughout. It's also the AMERICA episode! With guests Megan Snowe (USA), Ernest Truely (USA), Matthew Goulish (USA) and myself and Justin as always. Special thanks to Ilpo Heikkinen for stepping in and being a pop-up sound guy/saviour. I love him, even if he isn't American.

Despite the slow start I think this was our best episode yet, and I was thrilled to have Matthew on the show as his work has influenced me a great deal. And I wish Megan could be on the show every week. Here's the video, with live tweets by Ernest (@room4error) superimposed where appropriate. Sorry the lighting isn't as pleasant and before; I guess our sound man usually handles that too. It's the DARK episode!

Next week (10 November) is episiode 6 - the ANTEPENULTIMATE episode! -  starting at 18:00 as always at Ihana Baari/Mad House Helsinki. Guests will include Jaakko Blomberg from Yhteismaa and several representatives of the Post-MJ Era Institute of Consciousness. And if you can't make it, you can still follow us on Facebook (send in those mailbag questions!) and check the hashtag #SeriousIntrospection for future livetweets and other interactions.

Serious Introspection episode 4

posted 29 October 2015

Here's the hastily edited video from this week's episode of Serious Introspection with John W. Fail, which was a good one - featuring Hanne Ivars, Synes Elischka and Harriina Räinä as well as hype man Justin Tyler Tate. We talked about Bruce Conner films, interactivity in art, and how to make fake blood. And we played a game based on my life. There was a camera failure so we didn't have as much footage to work with this time, and I also tried to superimpose Ernest Truely's live tweets on the video, which is maybe funny or maybe annoying. 

Next Tuesday we have Ernest as guest, as well as Matthew Goulish, from Every House Has a Door! It will fulfill our dream of an all-male, all-North American stage show (just kidding) and as always, it's free and starts at 18:00. The evening is combined with Justin and Ernest's Psycho-Geographic Bingo game, which starts after our show.

Serious Introspection episode 3

posted 26 October 2015

Here is episode 3, from last week at Ihana Baari. Guests were Kristinsson & Fredriksson, and we attempted a subjective 'trivia' game which flopped due to low audience participation. Thanks to Justin Tyler Tate as always for being a great hype man, and to Lotta Blomberg for taking care of the videographing and editing.

Tonight is episode 4, featuring Hanne Ivars (talking about her social art game, 'Can you pass the screwdriver, please?') and Harriina Räinä, talking about her upcoming performance. This will be the fourth of an eight episode season. Admission is free and you can find the event on Facebook. Ernest Truely will live tweet the show on the @room4error Twitter account.

Serious Introspection episode 2

posted 14 October 2015

Here's (season 1,) episode 2 of Serious Introspection with John W. Fail, my weekly live/talk show at Mad House Helsinki. This week I talked with Annika Tudeer, Andrew Paterson, and Kimmo Modig. It was a significantly more lively show than last time, and I felt way better about it. I apologise for the audio being terrible - it makes this quite hard to listen to, but next week we will ensure that we get a better recording.

I'm not sure who will be the guest next week as there is no performance that night at Mad House, but we'll have some good people for sure. You can  follow on Facebook and send your mailbag questions to me here, or via Facebook, or via Twitter. Thanks againt to Justin Tyler Tate for being an awesome co-host!

Serious Introspection episode 1

posted 11 October 2015

I am hosting a weekly live/talk show called Serious Introspection with John W. Fail on Tuesdays until the end of November. The show takes place at the Ihana Bar as part of Mad House Helsinki's second season.

Each week I will bring up some friends and other random people, and interview people who are going to be performing at Mad House in the coming week. I hope to create something that is enteraining and also insightful into the creative process. Maybe it's just stupid. You can decide for yourself, and then follow on Facebook and send your mailbag questions to me here, or via Facebook, or via Twitter. Justin Tyler Tate is my co-host/MC.

This coming week we have Annika Tudeer from OBLIVIA to talk about The Rave, a performance taking place on Tuesday after Serious Introspection ends and also again on Wednesday.

Admission to Serious Introspection is free and it starts at 18:00 each week, and lasts for one hour, except for this week (16 October) where it starts an hour earlier.

Serious Introspection
with John W. Fail was a live show in Helsinki, Finland from 2015-2016. Each week, John along with hype man Justin Tyler Tate, interviewed people about their creative process and tried to deliver a direct, communicative experience about art and performance. You know, we did eight shows in the first season and it was pretty time-consuming, but we were excited to come back for eight more in 2016. It's all archived here. No one is really sure why John hosted a talk show, but a lot of strange things have happened in the universe and this is ultimately pretty insignificant. We tried our best to entertain. The show took place at Mad House Helsinki's Ihana Baari, and was free to attend. We've made videos available from all episodes of the show here for you to watch. The show is indefinitely on hiatus as Justin moved away and other projects took over. We also will occasionally post audio podcasts when we get the time to go more in-depth with people, outside of the public show. The videos aren't always perfect and the audio even less so, but we hope you still enjoy them. But wait, there's more! We are still available, in theory to be booked for parties, wedding, bar mitzvahs and other events. The for-profit arm of Serious Introspection is called SI Services and we're up for anything, really! Now that we all live in different places, it's probably going to be quite an ordeal just to have three white guys host your kid's birthday party. But please believe me when I say that we would really, really love to do this. We will come to your event and offer our services for hosting, hyping and media specialisation (live tweeting) for a variable fee. If you'd like to find out more about Serious Introspection, you can start by watching these episodes and seeing if it's your cup of tea. The hashtag #SeriousIntrospection contains the running stream of live tweets from our media specialist Ernest Truely (and anyone else who might contribute). We have a Facebook page which we use to post info about the upcoming shows and videos as they are released. We have made the show available as a podcast where people get Podcasts, generally iTunes or Stitcher. Try the Overcast app, it's really nice. So yeah, that's it, pretty much. We will announce future events and SI-related matters here so feel free to check back any time. We're trying to keep this page simple, if for no other reason than our cup runneth over with websites already.