Monthly Archives: March 2021

VCD DA Seminar – Thursday 25 March 14:00 – 16:00

The next VCD Doctoral Seminar is held Thursday 25.3 from 14:00 – 16:00 on Zoom. The event will be mediated by Professor Masood Masoodian from Visual Communication Design. Assistant Professor Arja Karhumaa, who is also Head of Visual Communication Design MA programme, will be presenting an overview summary of her thesis which is currently in pre-examination.

PRESENTATION:

Epä(i)genesis: Design as (new) materialist writing. Study Y.

by Arja Karhumaa

ABSTRACT

This is an artistic research into the materiality of typographic text. In everyday settings, the conventions of ordinary text documents render them almost transparent for their reader. At the same time, the conventions are so visual that texts are often recognised before reading, just by looking. As a designer and a researcher, I expose these conventions in “Epägenesis”, my experimental writing project which starts from appropriating found text from ordinary text documents.

In “Epägenesis” (eng. “Ungenesis”), the persuasive power of form is exposed by my entangled gestures of writing, designing and reading, calling into question the established categories of ”form” and “content”. What is subsequently exposed is the situated knowledge and skilled practice of a text designer.

The dissertation consists of two books (X and Y), where X marks the practice-based part and Y is a study that sheds light on the project. Here, X and Y define a space where practice and theory make new diffractive patterns, producing new knowledge where the two are inseparable.

The first book, “Epägenesis: Katalogi X”, collects my experimental texts in four series: Alfa, Beeta, Delta and Gem. In writing these texts, I borrow methods and constraints from conceptual and procedural writing.

In this study, I reread my experimental writing in Epägenesis through theories and concepts used in examining the visual and material aspects of typography. Linguistic and literary studies, art history, and visual and media studies have previously shown interest mainly towards textual artifacts that are recognisably material, i.e. unconventional. Multimodal research also recognises how texts are produced through various practices. In my research, I read typography through new materialist concepts, which suggest that text is always material-discursive regardless of if its form is prominent or transparent to its reader. New materialist thinking allows me to show how typographic writing is entangled with language and matter, with impact from both human and nonhuman. In my research, I am particularly interested in how this impact gets entangled with the notion of the public.

The history of typography is the history of printing, which carries with it many preconceived ideas about origin, authorship, and value. The entanglements of writing, printing and typography deserve to be examined carefully just as typographic practices and conventions migrate onto digital environments, where they emerge and transform in networks devoid of subjective authorship or discernable origin. This might be a turning point which will reveal that us humans never did our writing on our own, and not only do we write, but through material-discoursive agents something is always also epigenetically written into the world.

Showing evidence of the extensive impact of typography on the lives of publics is not easy, but my thesis proposes a certain ”sociology of texts”. This is a space where the categories of language and image, form and content, convention and invention collapse. Instead, new differential, entangled relationships are recognised in how typographic choices impact our shared world and its patterns of variation and change. With my multiple shifts in perspective, scale, and method, this thesis points to how the smallest punctuation marks are entangled with the vast phenomena of knowledge and power.

This doctoral thesis consists of two parts, X and Y, which will be pre-examined and evaluated together:

  1. Epägenesis: Katalogi X (image below, a printed book, the artistic production of the thesis)
  2. “Epä(i)genesis: Design as (new) materialist writing. Study Y.”

Epägenesis is an experimental writing project where I borrow methods and constraints used in literary practices of conceptual and procedural writing. Epägenesis: Katalogi X is a 280-page book, printed and sewn. It documents all my textual experiments which are then discussed and contex- tualised in the Study Y.

Picture of Arja Karhumaa's Book Epägenesis : Katalogi X

Arja Karhumaa’s Epägenesis : Katalogi X

Bio

Arja Karhumaa is a text designer, a feral academic, and a language animal, not to mention Assistant Professor, and Head of Visual Communication Design MA programme at Aalto ARTS. Her doctoral thesis is an artistic research into the (new) material aspects of typographic writing and the situated knowledge of a text designer, and it proposes a certain ”sociology of text”. The artistic production of the thesis is documented in Epägenesis : Katalogi X, a catalogue/publication of conceptual and procedural writing.

In her practice, research and education, Karhumaa is searching for new currents and possible modes of contemporary academic and critical practice within visual communication. Her specific interests are language and typography, publication as art/design practice, and positioning communication design in contexts such as new materiality and intersectional feminism. Karhumaa has held workshops and participated prominent design competition juries both in Finland and internationally. She is co-founder of the non-profit independent publishing platform Multipöly.

 

Defence of dissertation in the field of Photography, MA Laura Nissinen

Zoom Quick Guide

Event page

The audience is asked to join at no later than 12:00. The defence will be recorded.

Event language(s): Finnish

Title of dissertation:

Abstraktin aika. Epäesittävä suomalainen valokuvataide 1920-2020

Opponent: PhD Johanna Frigård, University of Turku.

Custos: Professor Harri Laakso, Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Department of Media.

ABSTRACT

In recent years, no follower of photographic art can have avoided coming into contact with abstract photography. It seems to be everywhere, from the most expensive galleries to the smallest independent exhibition spaces. New makers emerge, and established artists who previously confined themselves to representational art are now working on abstract works. Numerous photography magazines have covered it, dedicating entire issues to the theme. What is it all about? And what exactly is abstract photography? Then there is the question of whether combining photography and abstraction is even possible or meaningful? To answer these questions this research gathers together over 100 years of abstract photography and approaches photographers and artists about their practice through interviews.

As concepts, photography and abstraction seem to be almost opposites. The concept of abstract is usually used specifically to refer to non-representational art and photographic medium is tradition- ally described as a medium of exact representation. Interpreting non-representational images is further complicated by the variety of definitions used. The thought patterns and manufacturing techniques involved in producing abstractions are manifold. However, what all the definitions have in common is that they refer to photography with unrecognisable or hard-to-recognise subjects.

Other recurring themes in abstract photo- graphic art include an investigative orientation, experimentalism, a focus on the working process, and commentary on technical reforms. Medium- related self-referentiality is key: the subjects of abstraction often include the history and characteristics of photography, and the materials of the medium. Throughout its existence, the main subject of photographic abstraction has been photography itself. Furthermore, abstract photographic art is pictorial, non-narrative, and non-verbal. However, this does not mean that abstract photographic art could not be political. Throughout its history, abstract photography has been used as a means to criticise the features and changes of the art world and society in large.

Time after time, abstraction challenges the traditional forms of expression and methods of photography, and functions within this medium as a force promoting renewal and vitality. Abstraction reflects the historical changes in photography over the past century. It highlights the technical changes in photography, but also the relationship between photography and the issues surrounding it, such as science or other art. The history of abstraction reflects the essential questions in the field of photography in each era. Finnish contemporary photographic abstraction returns to 19th-century scientific photography, 1920s avant-garde photograms, and studies of motion. With the emergence of new artists, however, each decade sees a change in content. What all abstractionists have in common is a desire to break the representational character of photography and to boldly study different aspects of photography. Makers of photographic abstractions are always required to consciously work against the norms of photography. Abstraction is bold thinking.”

Photograph. Aleatory Variable (burning b&w sheet film), I (2014) by Laura Nissinen.

Laura Nissinen: Aleatory Variable (burning b&w sheet film), I (2014).

More information on the thesis
Vilho Setälä, who photographed Finland’s earliest photographic abstraction, Sähkökruunu, in 1928, warned in a photography guide he wrote: “And now, my friend, when you try to open your eyes to the unseen, prepare for disappointment. Your friends don’t understand you and the editors reject your best pictures.”

Laura Nissinen’s doctoral dissertation Abstraktin aika. Epäesittävä suomalainen valokuvataide 1920–2020 will be examined at Aalto University on 26th March 2021. The thesis delves into one of medium’s most interesting problems, the possibility of abstract photography. The study, which also includes an artistic part, deals with the production of a total of 32 Finnish photographers and artists through an extensive interview section. In addition, several foreign photographers and artists are involved, as well as 19th Century Finnish and foreign scientists from different fields.

During its 100-year existence, photographic abstraction has established itself as part of photographic expression. However, the reception it has received has varied. Abstract photographs have been perceived as non-photographic and have been seen to resemble too much other visual arts, especially painting. The most turbulent stages in the history of Finnish abstract photography were experienced between 1950s and 1980s. Looking back, especially the 1970s, when many of the permanent structures of Finnish photography also took shape, appear to be problematic in many ways with photographic abstraction.

Today, there are only occasional echoes of the abstract’s sometimes very challenging position in Finnish art photography. However, the reservations of the past decades about the phenomenon can still be seen as interruptions in the narrative of Finnish photographic history and shortcomings in photo archives. Based on the small number of photographic abstractions in archives and collections, we have a gap in our country’s art history.

The strengthened art status of contemporary photography has increased the number of Finnish photographic abstractions and made the unrepresentative form of expression more common. On the other hand, this research shows that the importance of abstract photography in classifying photography as art in Finland has been essential. As Juhani Riekkola, member of the group Fotograafikot stated in his interview: “We hung the first photographs in the galleries, not today’s curators”.

The dissertation is publicly displayed online 10 days before the defence here.

THE DOCTORAND

Picture of the doctorand, MA Laura Nissinen. @Helinä Kuusela

The doctorand, MA Laura Nissinen. @Helinä Kuusela.

Laura Nissinen is Helsinki based photographer, artist and researcher. Her doctoral dissertation “Abstraktin aika. Epäesittävä suomalainen valokuvataide 1920–2020” deals with photographic abstraction. The dissertation includes an artistic production and is published by Aalto Arts Books. In 2017 Nissinen curated the exhibition “Abstract! 100 Years of Abstract Photography 1917–2017” in the Finnish Museum of Photography. Along with her doctoral studies in Aalto University, Nissinen is currently an art history master student in the University of Helsinki. Nissinen has previously graduated with MA from the University of Art and Design Helsinki (Taik). She has also studied photography and art in the University of Westminster, Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts and École National Supérieure de la Photographie.

More information please contact Laura Nissinen

Station of Commons presents Digital Commoning Practices – Phase2

Digital Commoning Practices

Station of Commons: Digital Commoning Practices

DIGITAL COMMONING PRACTICES

The collaborative initiative Station of Commons finds form in the exhibition ”Digital Commoning Practices” in March 2021 hosted in the artist run gallery Oksasenkatu 11 in Helsinki.

“The exhibition “Digital Commoning Practices” departs from Station of Commons; a practice of re-appropriation of technology as Commons within public space, which stands for radical alternative strategies to the neo-liberal system in terms of digital means of production, communication and distribution. “Digital Commoning Practices” starts with a question: How to think of a collaborative process embedded in technology that can find form into new knowledge and know-hows within, against and beyond capitalist modes of production?

Digital commoning practices” intends to both elaborate a critical discourse on the economization process, and to reflect on digital tools development to resist, and rebel, against privatization of technological means. Activist and architect Stavros Stavrides insists that commoning practices must welcome a multitude of knowledges, discourses, practices and know-hows for the emergence of commoning spaces. The dynamic at work operates as a collective and transformative effort always in the making. The exhibition invites artists, activists, urbanists, publishers, designers, programmers, feminists and educators to open, share their work in an Open Source way of doing and thinking.”

Lectures run this and next week, Thursday to Saturday, 7pm local time, and followed by Q&A.
No registration needed!

 

 

In case the link above does not work, please see the Station of Commons website for updates and try the following link for Room meeting link on Big Blue Button:

https://bbb.constantvzw.org/b/sta-l91-i40-ukv

Click here to watch video/audio (In VLC: File tab => Open Network, then copy paste the address)
Recordings will also be made available later.

 

More information:

First Session: Intersecting Commons

11.03.2021

Activation with Selena Savic in discussion with Station of Commons Juan Gomez&Gregoire Rousseau.

Rethinking the common: Exploring the potentialities of space commoning
by Stavros Stavrides

If commoning is about complex and historically specific processes through which representations, practices and values intersect in circumscribing what is to be shared and how in a specific society, where can we locate the potentialities of space commoning? Based on the view that commoning practices are characterized both by the means they employ and by the subjects that participate in them, this presentation will explore how inhabited space may become a shaping factor of solidarity and collaboration relations between commoners.

12.03.2021

“Unsettling the Universal: Really Useful Commoning”
by Dubravka Sekulic

Feminism, reminds us Lola Olufemi “is a political project of what could be.” Commons can be understood along similar lines. Both have to be understood as verbs, concepts that do, unsettle and transform, ways we are in the world. Thinking at the intersection between digital and urban, in my talk I will propose a reading of the public library as an important node in the feminist and commoning consciousness raising operation.

13.03.2021

Variations of Gender and Technology Trouble
by Cornelia Sollfrank

Technofeminism is based on two basic assumptions: 1) technology is not neutral and 2) technology is a highly gendered field. These presuppositions open up a field of questions, problems and related practices. Based on selected positions in theory and practice, the talk exemplifies some of the tensions and openings from which to rethink ways of encountering the current technopolitical crisis. Commoning here serves as a framework for the process of vision and implementation, of experimentation and evaluation, of responding to the contemporary condition by creating new forms, formats and formations and questioning them again.

Second Session: Commoning Education/Educating the Commons

18.03.2021

“How to infrastructure otherwise”
by Femke Snelting, Jara Rocha & Martino Morandi followed by iQ&A with SoC founders Juan Gomez and Gregoire Rousseau.

A hands-on conversation on the ongoing techno-political transformations in (remote) learning environments. How to infrastructure otherwise in more just and solidary ways? On de-schooling, interdependent learning and The bundle theory of the student-user. With Martino Morandi, Jara Rocha and Femke Snelting.

19.03.2021

“Educating the Commons and Commoning Education”
by Gregoire Rousseau and Nora Sternfeld in dialogue.

All over the world, education – which could be understood as a universal right and public good – is facing processes of economization and privatization. Technology – which could be understood as a common means of production, collaboratively developed – is taken away from the public and put into corporate hands. This conversation investigates the question of shared and common knowledge from the perspectives of an educator and an engineer, respectively.

20.03.2021

“Distributed resources versus distributed tech”
by Marcell Mars

Marcell Mars is a research associate at the Centre for Postdigital Cultures. Mars is one of the founders of Multimedia Institute/MAMA in Zagreb. His research Ruling Class Studies, started at the Jan van Eyck Academy (2011), examines state-of-the-art digital innovation, adaptation, and intelligence created by corporations such as Google, Amazon, Facebook, and eBay. He is a doctoral student at Digital Cultures Research Lab at Leuphana University, writing a thesis on Foreshadowed Libraries. Together with Tomislav Medak he founded Memory of the World/Public Library, for which he develops and maintains software infrastructure.
https://gist.github.com/marcellmars/10392e6e784e8734efa307623833597b

New Media Doctoral Seminar (DOM-L0007) – 18.3.2021

Welcome to the third New Media Doctoral Seminar of 2021! The seminar will be held virtually on Zoom on Thursday 18th March from 16:30 to 19:30 (GMT + 02.00, Helsinki, EEST).

Mediated by Professor Lily Díaz-Kommonen, there will be two extremely interesting presentations with a Q&A discussion taking place afterwards.

Presentations are open for everyone, welcome!

PRESENTATIONS

Weaponized memes in China: Multimodal discourse analysis of the visual rhetorical appeals of Chinese political memes

by Ningfeng Zhang

Picture of Ningfeng Zhang

Ningfeng Zhang

Abstract:
This study aims to apply multimodal discourse analysis as a theoretical point of entry to define the taxonomy of different rhetorical appeals of political memes in China’s most popular mobile application Wechat. The study views “internet memes” as a form of visual rhetoric, planning to analyze them respectively from representational, compositional, and interpersonal perspectives. The material consists of 357 internet memes posted on Wechat and collected by 10 active Chinese Wechat users in China during July 2019 – January 2021, their referential contents covered a series of social and political events occurring in China, including the Hongkong protest, the outbreak of Covid-19, the Sino-West relationship during the pandemic period and so on.  Multimodal discourse analysis was applied to understand the visual contents, compositional forms, and visual arguments formed communicated via those memes, and ultimately concludes the different visual rhetorical appeals reflected in them. It is both a methodological and theoretical attempt to expand the understanding of the visual rhetorical study and how political memes function in the participatory media culture within a specific social, cultural, and political context.

Ningfeng Zhang is a doctoral candidate currently working as a new media researcher with Prof. Dr. Lily Díaz -Kommonen. His research interest focuses on the social, cultural, and political relevance and the generation mechanism of internet memes in the context of Chinese media environment, exploring the mechanism of how internet memes, as a form of visual rhetoric, a propaganda entity, as well as a facet of citizen journalism, generate, mutate and proliferate in a highly homogeneous media environment.

Intergroup Contact via Telerobtic Puppetry

by Avner Peled

Picture of Avner Peled

Avner Peled

Abstract:
Following the premise of Intergroup Contact, established by Gordon Allport in the 1954 publication The Nature of Prejudice, I am investigating forms of communication that can reduce prejudice between groups in conflict and improve intergroup relations. Technological mediation supports contact in violent conflict scenarios where organizing face-to-face contact is challenging, even more so in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Online contact forms suffer from a lack of agency, a limited set of nonverbal cues, and an impaired turn-taking flow. Virtual Reality supports user engagement but enforces a mind-body split and a dissociation from terrestrial grounds. I, therefore, propose remote-controlled robots (telerobots) as a way to add corporeal depth to mediated contact, situating a midpoint between online communication and a face-to-face meeting. For this research, the chosen form of implementation for intergroup contact is Telerobtic Puppetry. Puppetry (as well as virtual presence) evokes a hybrid state between object and subject, puppet and puppeteer. A hybrid object absorbs prejudice and problematizes it. Deindividuation of the puppet-avatar turns into a performance of group identities and categorization; a lack of signification opens up a path for self-expression. Design-based research and user surveying are now underway toward a telerobotic, textile-based puppet theater workshop and public performance event that occurs in two locations simultaneously.

Avner Peled is a creative technologist and media artist with a background in computer science, neurobiology, and philosophy. Currently, as Doctoral Researcher at Aalto Media Lab, Avner is exploring the use of telepresence robots as mediators for intergroup contact and conflict resolution in Israel and Palestine. He is also developing 3D web visualizations of big data for the New York Times.

The research is supported by the Kone Foundation.