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Heavy Metal Detector

Steve Maher is a visual and relational artist based between Limerick, Ireland and Helsinki, Finland. His collaborative projects make use of music, its rituals and cultural artefacts.

Maher’s project Heavy Metal Detector is a format for urban walks and a novel distribution platform for music. A set of metal detectors is hacked to play heavy metal music when detecting metal in the ground.

Using the detectors, the walk participants will uncover hidden sounds of the city, experiencing local sites in a new way.

Heavy Metal Detector plays with metaphors of the underground and archaeology, by making musical subcultures audible at sites of historical specificity.

The project pays homage to the diversity of Finnish heavy metal cultures.

9 local bands participated in the project by contributing music from their repertoire for the playlist.

During the residency, Maher first researched Helsinki’s heavy metal scene identifying collaborators, followed by the customisation of 7 metal detectors. A recognisable brand was designed for the public walks, with a flag and t-shirts for the participants.

The walks premiered in Maunula on 6.6.2016, in an event commemorating Motörhead’s Lemmy Kilmister, who had recorded an advertisement at a local gas station just before he passed away. Further walks took place in Central Helsinki landmarks, the ancient cemetery of the Old Church Park and the Citizen Square next to the Music Hall and Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art. In Autumn 2016, the project also toured in other Finnish cities.

Special thanks to Alejandro Olarte (hardware customisation).


COMMUNITY_ Heavy metal musicians and fans

ART FORM_ Public art, media art

CONTEXT_ Collaborative Media Art Residencies Helsinki

Gallery -

Finland 28 Apr – 12 Jun 2016

Maunula, Helsinki

ARTIST_ Steve Maher, IE/FI