Category Archives: Defence

For doctoral defences

Defence of Doctoral Thesis in the Field of New Media, MA Ilan Manouach

MA Ilan Manouach will defend the thesis ‘Estranging Comics – Towards a novel comics praxeology’ on 22 April at 12:00 in Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Department of Art and Media.

The defense is organized as a hybrid event. and will be held live at Väre, lecture hall F101 (Otaniementie 14, Espoo), and in Zoom (please click here for link).

Doctoral Candidate: MA Ilan Manouach
Opponent: Dr. Jan Baetens, KU Leuven, Belgium
Custos: Dr. Bassam El Baroni, Assistant Professor in Curating and Mediating Art at the School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Aalto University.

Information at Aalto University web page: EnglishFinnish

The doctoral thesis is available and publicly displayed 10 days before the event here.

Image of Shapereader by Ilan Manouach, a system for tactile storytelling specifically designed for blind and partially sighted readers/makers of comics .

Shapereader by Ilan Manouach.

ABSTRACT

The industry-wide adoption of digital and network technologies has produced long-lasting and unevenly distributed effects in all the sectors of the comics industry. The globalization of markets and services has profoundly reshaped comics labor. Its effects are economic (the precarization of craftsmanship traditions), social (the rise of entrepreneurial fan culture and the consolidation of increasingly diversified communities with novel forms of amateur and semi-professional activity), technical (the introduction of digital tools for the distribution, the archival and retrieval of media artefacts) and aesthetic (the gradual integration in the production pipeline of AI and synthetic media). As is demonstrated by the recent emergence of radical forms of experimentation documented in the Conceptual Comics media collections of Ubuweb and Monoskop, comic artists are often able to leverage the dependencies of the ever-growing network infrastructure of the comics industry. Nevertheless, these disruptions foreground an epistemic crisis in the understanding of contemporary comics, both in academia and in more traditionally established professional spheres.

This thesis embraces an attitude of productive estrangement towards the medium’s forms, material qualities and operations, and constructs comics as a “contemporary object”. According to philosopher Anne-Françoise Schmid, a contemporary object is an extra-disciplinary entity that is massively distributed in space and time. Understanding such an object depends on the increasingly aggregate nature of knowledge production and dissemination in the computational age. Both in theory, with a series of papers in peer-review journals, and in artistic practice, by way of published comics and commissioned curatorial projects, this thesis examines the mutations of the comics ecology as an expansion of the scope of knowledge. It embraces the cumulative impact of digital transformation and articulates a novel comics praxeology predicated on two conditions. First, the thesis appeals for a systematic exploration of comics outside of narrow media purviews, the implicitly disciplinary conceptions, and the dominant historical perspectives in Comics Studies. It aims to develop a conception that embraces a rigorous application of a non-hegemonic interdisciplinarity in comics research. Second, and most importantly, the thesis argues for the expansion of operational agency on the part of comics professionals. This agency is described as a heightened contextual appreciation of the industry’s infrastructural backend, an awareness of its imbricated institutions and a diversification of the professional toolbox. I argue that a novel comics praxeology is a necessary attribute in order to embrace future, speculative, unclaimed or hitherto impossible forms in comics expression.

THE DOCTORAL CANDIDATE

Profile picture of doctoral candidate, MA Ilan Manouach

MA Ilan Manouach

Ilan Manouach is a researcher, a musician and a multidisciplinary artist with a specific interest in conceptual and post-digital comics. His research examines how this century’s frontier technologies such as AI, financial technologies and globalized logistics reshape the comics industry. He is mostly known for Shapereader, a system for tactile storytelling specifically designed for blind and partially sighted readers/makers of comics. He is the founder of Echo Chamber, a Brussels-based non-profit organization with the mission to produce, fundraise, document and archive radical and speculative artistic practices in contemporary comics. The topics of his research and artistic practice include conceptual comics, post-internet publishing, and synthetic media and AI. On the side, Ilan works as a pirate/librarian for the Conceptual Comics Collections at Ubuweb and Monoskop, is an appointed expert in experimental comics for the Belgian government for its national public funding program (CCAP) and works as a strategy consultant for the Onassis Foundation and its visibility through its newly funded publishing activity.

Contact information: email / +30694169008

Defence of Doctoral Thesis in the Field of Visual Communication Design, MA Ulla Björklund

MA Ulla Björklund will defend her thesis “Changing the Old and Designing the New. Contradictions in Visual Communication Design” on Friday, 19 November 2021 at 12:00 in Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Department of Media.

The defense is organized as a hybrid event, and will be held live at lecture Y203 B-hall at Otakaari 1, Espoo, and online in Zoom (please click here for link).

Doctoral Candidate: MA Ulla Björklund
Opponent: Professor José Allard, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
Custos: Prof. Teemu Leinonen, Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Department of Media

Information at Aalto University web page: EnglishFinnish

The doctoral thesis is available and publicly displayed 10 days before the event here.

ABSTRACT

This study looks at change in visual communication design from two points of view. Firstly, it locates the underlying need for change that motivates the collaboration with visual communication designers. Secondly, it recognizes how the actual design work is changing. The purpose is to better understand the work of visual communication designers and the challenges that are present in the design processes.

The main contribution of the study is the methodology for studying change. This means the way concepts from cultural historical activity theory are used to study visual communication design. Further, the two ethnographic case studies, a visual update of a publication and the visual communication design of think tank Demos Helsinki, describe visual communication design work, which is not yet documented. The case studies have historical value in creating knowledge of the profession.

The main results of the study show a historical contradiction present in visual communication design: How to use craft skills in collaborative processes and concept development? The designers’ skills include knowledge that is focused on the making of visualizations that is not easily verbalized or shared. Meanwhile, in order for the design process to be collaborative there needs to be tools for working together. While craft type of knowledge is useful, it is not easy to include others into the design process, even if it would be relevant for the end result.

The information gained from the study helps us to understand how the context of the designer influences the design process. Further, the study gives conceptual tools to locate where in the design process the collaboration between the designer and the other participants of the design process need support, in order for the collaboration to be better.

In conclusion, changes in the design context affect the need for design. Understanding the changes taking place in the context of the design work can help the designer to understand what is expected from the design and improve the collaboration with clients.

THE DOCTORAL CANDIDATE

Image of doctoral candidate, MA Ulla Björklun

MA Ulla Björklund.

Ulla Björklund has an MA in graphic design from the University of Art and Design and has studied graphic design at the Institute of Design, Lahti Polytechnic. She has spent four years studying activity theory at CRADLE (Center of Research on Activity Development and Learning) at Helsinki University. Her special interests are ethnography and the design process.

Contact information: email / +358 40 830 4578

Defence of Dissertation in the Field of Visual Communication Design, MA Arja Karhumaa

Cover image of EPÄGENESIS: Tekstin muotoilu uusmateriaalisena kirjoitta/umisena. Tutkielma Y by Arja Karhumaa.

Cover of Arja Karhumaa's Dissertation second book Epägenesis: Katalogi X.

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

Zoom Quick Guide

Event language: Finnish 

Event page: In English In Finnish 

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

TITLE OF DISSERTATION

EPä/iGENESIS: Tekstin muotoilu uusmateriaalisena kirjoitta/umisena. Tutkielma Y

ABSTRACT

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

In Epägenesis (eng. “Ungenesis”), the persuasive power of form is illuminated 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 this study which sheds light on the project. Together, X and Y define a space where practice and theory make new diffractive patterns, producing new knowledge where those two are inseparable.

The book Epägenesis: Katalogi X is a compilation of 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 which have been 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 whether its form is conventional or unconventional, transparent or prominent to its reader. New materialist thinking provides a frame where 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, author-ship, and value. The entanglements of writing, printing and typography deserve to be examined carefully in this exact moment when 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. 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, however my thesis begins to propose a certain “sociology of texts”. This is a space where 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 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.

 

Image of Arja Karhumaa's work 'Nocturne'.

‘Nocturne’ by Arja Karhumaa.

THE DOCTORAND

Image of the doctorand Arja Karhumaa.

MA Arja Karhumaa.

Arja Karhumaa is a graphic designer who works at the intersection of writing, education, and research. Karhumaa has a history of design practice both in agencies and as an independent entrepreneur. Since 2010, she has focused not only on developing education in visual communication, but also on publication design, and writing that spans the territories of poetry, design, and scholarship. Karhumaa has been awarded with prizes and honorable mentions as well as prestigious jury positions both in Finland and in international competitions. She has worked at Aalto University since 2011 as a Lecturer and Assistant Professor.

Contact: Arja Karhumaa

 

 

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

Defence of dissertation in the field of New Media, Msc Massimo Menichinelli

 

Title of the doctoral thesis:

Open and collaborative design processes – Meta-Design, ontologies and platforms within the Maker Movement

Opponent: Professor Elisa Giaccardi, Delft University of Technology, The Netherlandsa

Custos: Professor Lily Díaz-Kommonen, Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Department of Media

Abstract

“The emergence of the Maker Movement has taken place in the context of a design practice and research that is now open, peer-to-peer, diffuse, distributed, decentralized; activity-based; meta-designed; ontologically-defined and defining; locally-bounded but globally-networked and community-centered. For many years the author participated and worked in the Maker Movement, with a special focus on its usage of digital platforms and digital fabrication tools for collaboratively designing and manufacturing digital and physical artifacts as Open Design projects. The author’s main focus in practice and research as a meta-designer was in understanding how can participants in distributed systems collaboratively work together through tools and platforms for the designing and managing of collaborative processes. The main research question of this dissertation is: How can we support and integrate the research and practice of meta-designers in analyzing, designing and sharing open and collaborative design and making processes within open, peer-to-peer and distributed systems?

The focus evolved and changed with three main phases: from facilitating collaborative design processes with 1) guidelines for a generic design approach, process and tools, to the use of 2) design tools and workshops that encode the methodology to developing 3) a digital ontology and the related digital platform. In the latter, the ontology for describing, documenting, sharing and designing collaborative design processes was developed as part of a broader conceptual framework, OpenMetaDesign, that builds the ontology on top of concepts describing design processes, and encodes it in a digital platform. The role of the ontology is to support the practice and research with a Research through Design approach that works not just on understanding the practice but also informing it, navigating it and continuously redesigning it. This dissertation is an exploration of the possible role, practice and profile of meta-designers that work in facilitating distributed, open and collaborative design and making processes in the Maker Movement. As a result, it provides insights on the practice and artifacts of the author and also a strategy and tools for applying the same exploration to other meta-designers. Following a Research through Design framework for bridging practice and research, the dissertation redefines Meta-Design in the Maker Movement as the design of digital ontologies of design processes as design material. Ultimately, the practice of designing a Metadata Ontology for Ontological Design through the design of bits (digital environments) and atoms (physical artifacts) with and for Open, Peer-to-Peer, Diffuse, Distributed and Decentralized Systems. Finally, it redefines meta-designers as designers, facilitators, participants, developers and researchers embedded in social networks that define their activities, profiles and boundaries for the ontologies they design.”

Public display of the doctoral thesis is arranged as online display:

http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-952-64-0091-4

Slides available here

Post-doctoral Party

Contact information of the doctoral candidate: Massimo Menichinelli

 

Defence of dissertation in the field of New Media, MM Daniel Landau

Title of the doctoral thesis:

Becoming Other. Virtual Embodiment – Blurring the Self-Other Binary

Opponent: Professor Mel Slater, Universitat de Barcelona

Custos: Professor Lily Díaz-Kommonen, Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Department of Media

Abstract

“The research presented in my dissertation explores the impact of virtual reality (VR) and virtual embodiment technologies on the distinction between ‘self and other’ in interpersonal and intergroup contexts. In a series of five empirical experiments and three art projects, I investigated this self-other distinction in the context of the ever-evolving relationship between technology and the self.

Using stereoscopic 180º video, I explore the impact of virtual encounters transitioning from meeting others to becoming ‘the other.’ The first study shows that meeting in VR a person who shares a painful story elicits a high degree of empathetic care and facial synchrony. The next study shows that experiencing ingroup aggression from an outgroup perspective increases empathy towards the outgroup compared to seeing the same scenario from the ingroup’s perspective. Next, I present an art project devising a novel and effective technique to induce virtual embodiment using 180º stereoscopic video, followed by empirical evaluation and validation of this technique. Next, I show that meeting yourself in virtual reality as an experimental paradigm can increase self-compassion. And finally, in a VR museum installation, I demonstrate the potential of VR for social impact.

This manuscript explores various VR methods of placing participants “in others’ shoes” and provides both new insights and novel methods for using VR and virtual embodiment for storytelling, art installations, and social interventions. ”

The dissertation is publicly displayed online 10 days before the defence at:https://aaltodoc.aalto.fi/doc_public/eonly/riiputus/

Defence in the field of New Media: MA Eva Durall

MA Eva Durall will defend her doctoral dissertation

Reflection and Self-Regulation Using Monitoring Tools in Learning: Critical Design Exploration on Self-Monitoring During Independent Study

Friday 2 November 2018
Otakaari 1x, room A1
Starting at 12.00

Opponent: PhD prof. Anders Morch, University of Oslo
Custos: prof. Teemu Leinonen

Discussion will be in English.

 


 

More information:

In this dissertation opportunities and challenges of using monitoring tools in learning are critically explored from a design perspective. The results are two-fold: a design prototype that uses self-monitoring in independent learning situations (Feeler), and identification of reflection and self-regulation as relevant skills for autonomous and independent learning that self-monitoring tools can support. In light of these findings, this research proposes a set of design principles to guide further designs of monitoring tools aiming to support learning.

Inspired by critical and speculative design approaches, the Feeler prototype presents an extreme, yet plausible case of monitoring physiological data, which consists in monitoring brain activity to detect learners’ attention and relaxation levels during independent study. The design of the prototype was influenced by human-centered tradition and the participatory design approach. The prototype allowed students to experience and researchers to study a hypothetical solution regarding the use of self-monitoring tools during independent study.

The tests conducted as part of this research brought light into the dominant values and socio-economic discourses associated to mainstream uses of monitoring tools, and supported students critically reflect about these tools. In this regard, this research highlights the value of critical and speculative design approaches to research and discuss emerging technologies in learning and teaching.

This research identifies several design principles, which are grouped around the key themes of self-knowledge, agency-oriented technology, reflection and self-regulation. These principles are exemplified with the Feeler prototype in order to help practitioners and researchers understand how the empirical findings can be translated into actionable ideas when designing monitoring tools. This research points at data-privacy and design for autonomy as important design implications for the design of monitoring tools in learning. There is also a need for further research on these.

Monitoring technologies enable the automatic collection and analysis of data to provide feedback about diverse activities and processes. Despite these technologies are increasingly present in different contexts of human life, for instance in the quantified self movement, in learning, monitoring tools are still an emerging technology. To date, most approaches to use monitoring tools in learning have focused on finding application areas without problematising the context of use. Little attention has been paid to issues like the nature of data and the inferences that are made based on them, the role of students in learning, and the conception of learning and technology. This dissertation addresses this research gap and provides an understanding of the issues related to the design of monitoring tools and the adoption of techno-monitoring practices in learning.

Welcome!

Defence in the field of New Media: MA Sanna Marttila

The dissertation examines the ways in which Participatory Design (PD) and digital design endeavors can contribute to wider public access to, and use of, digital cultural heritage.

FRIDAY 19 JANUARY 2018, 12:00–14:00
Aalto University TÖÖLÖ CAMPUS

Nokia Hall, Main Building, 2nd floor
Runeberginkatu 14-16, 00560, Helsinki

MA, M.Phil. Sanna Marttila will defend her thesis Infrastructuring for Cultural Commons.

Opponent: Dr.polit Dagny Stuedahl, Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences (HiOA)

Custos: prof. Lily Díaz-Kommonen

Discussion will be in English.


More information:

In her doctoral dissertation Infrastructuring for Cultural Commons Sanna Marttila inquires into the ways in which Participatory Design (PD) and digital design endeavors can contribute to wider public access to, and use of, digital cultural heritage. Marttila advocates for an approach according to which digital cultural heritage is arranged and understood as cultural commons, and for more collaborative modes of social care for and governance of the cultural commons.

In addition to the empirically grounded findings and proposals contained in six individual research articles, Marttila develops a theoretical framework that combines scholarship on Information Infrastructures, Commons and PD. Against this framework Marttila interrogates how the information infrastructures and conditions that surround digital cultural heritage can be active in constructing and contributing to cultural commons. While doing this, she draws attention to the gap that exists between on the one hand official institutional digital cultural heritage collections, systems and practices, and on the other hand the digital platforms and practices through which everyday people create, curate and share digital cultural works.

In order to understand how to critically and productively bridge this gap, Marttila presents insights gained from conducting three design research cases that engage both cultural heritage institutions and everyday media users. Building upon this empirical work, and latching on to scholarship on the notion of infrastructuring, Marttila proposes four infrastructuring strategies for cultural commons: probing and building upon the installed base, stimulating and simulating design and use through gateways, producing and pooling shared resources, and, lastly, fostering and shaping a commons culture that supports commoning. In exploring these strategies, Marttila maps the territory between commons and infrastructuring, and connects these notions to the PD tradition.

In addition, drawing on her practical design work, Marttila discusses requirements for professional designers operating on commons frameworks and with collective action. By doing this, her dissertation not only breaks new theoretical ground through advancing theoretical considerations relevant to contemporary design research, especially the field of PD, but also contributes practical implications useful for professional digital media design practice, especially for designers working in the fields of digital culture and cultural heritage.

Welcome!

Defence in the field of New Media: M.Soc.Sci. Pirkka Åman

In the thesis, Pirkka Åman explores music recommendation systems and suggests new discovery strategies that make use of context information, information describing the listener’s situation. The ethical cornerstone of the thesis is to support cultural diversity by influencing music recommendations towards non-obvious and non-mainstream music. Åman believes that one way to achieve serendipitous – new, good, and often surprising – musical discoveries is to offer people ways to augment urban environments with music.

FRIDAY 12 JANUARY 2018 from 12:00
Lecture hall 822, ARABIA

Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture
Hämeentie 135 C, 00560, Helsinki

M.Soc.Sci. Pirkka Åman will defend his thesis Musical Serendipity. Designing for Contextual Music Recommendation and Discovery. on Friday 12 January 2018.

Opponent: PhD François Pachet, Spotify

Custos: prof. Lily Díaz-Kommonen

Discussion will be in English.

More information

In the thesis, Pirkka Åman explores music recommendation systems and suggests new discovery strategies that make use of context information, information describing the listener’s situation. The ethical cornerstone of the thesis is to support cultural diversity by influencing music recommendations towards non-obvious and non-mainstream music. Åman believes that one way to achieve serendipitous – new, good, and often surprising – musical discoveries is to offer people ways to augment urban environments with music.

Today, almost all music that has been recorded is available online. The problem for music lovers is finding the most interesting music from the catalogs of millions of tracks. One way to approach the problem is to include some kind of context information to recommendations, for example, location, time, social context or activity.

The author presents concepts and prototypes showcasing the potential uses of context information and analyzes interactions and context information used in commercial services and research prototypes. The results of the thesis show that involving context factors in music recommendation can lead to rewarding user experiences and serendipitous discoveries. The focus of music discovery is in urban environments where the field studies where conducted. The field study participants felt that the discovery of music and events improved the quality of the everyday life, showing the potential for similar commercial services.

On a more abstract level, the ethical undercurrent of the work is promoting cultural diversity as well as co-creation of urban environments with music-related applications. Through the concepts and prototypes, the author aimed to empower people by offering means to modify their environments by creating, experiencing and sharing virtual, augmented layers of music and other media content.

While the results show that the users indeed experienced serendipity in many ways, it can not be proven that context-aware music recommendations necessarily lead to cultural diversity. Instead, design implications are given to help designers and researchers of future systems to build rewarding and enjoyable context-aware content services, especially to enrich urban environments. The implications include:

Supporting open meaning-making through combinations of different media content and places;
Visual and interactive UI elements that communicate the system logic or explain why a recommendation was made;
Positive restrictions, such as allowing the content to be available only when the user is near a certain location or within a defined time window;
Supporting serendipity can be approached in many ways, for example by combining music with an activity, a location, certain time or an identity, which may result in serendipitous discoveries of not only music but the cultural layers of urban environments as well.
The work helps in opening new directions in the domain of social media since there are few studies conducted on music and social media services from the contextual point of view. Furthermore, various context-aware services (e.g. mobile shopping, advertising, travel and lifestyle applications) that sense people’s activity or location may benefit from the work.

Welcome!

Dissertation in the field of photography: M.Soc.Sci. Maija Tammi

The dissertation scrutinises how sickness has been represented in art photography and examines new ways to approach, think about and create photographic art about sickness.

M.Soc.Sci Maija Tammi will defend her dissertation Sick Photography. Representations of Sickness in Art Photography. on Tuesday 12 December 2017.

At 12:00–14:00. Lecture hall 822, 8th floor, Hämeentie 135 C, 00560, Helsinki.

Opponent: PhD Loiuse Wolthers, Hasselblad Foundation, Göteborg
Custos: prof. Merja Salo, Department of Media

The discussion will be in English.

More information:

The dissertation Sick Photography scrutinises how sickness has been represented in art photography and examines new ways to approach, think about and create photographic art about sickness. It is a work of artistic research – it combines the practice of research with the generation of new artworks. The research differentiates between sickness, illness and disease, following anthropologist Arthur Kleinman’s definitions, and illustrates how 67 artworks by known authors sit in relation to these definitions. The research shows that art photographers have mostly concentrated on depicting personal illness experiences. Critics and scholars have concentrated on the ethics of what kind of images of sickness or suffering ought to be shown or on the psychology of why some images of sickness bother viewers. Tammi’s research adds to the conversation of difficult images drawing from writings on disgust, uncanny and abject, and claims that the proximity of photography makes it potent for being abject or uncanny. The main results of the research, artworks Leftover (2014) and White Rabbit Fever (2016), are intertwined with the research and draw their inspiration from it.

Welcome!

tammi_sick_mainoskuvat4

The dissertation notice and the published dissertation are placed for public display at the Learning Hub Arabia (Hämeentie 135 C, 5th floor, room 570), at latest 10 days before the defence date.

Event on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/146912999264323/