Researchers’ Forum

Media Factory Researchers’ Forum

Video from previous researchers’ forum seminar 12.11.2009

Media Factory aims at facilitating trans-disciplinary approaches in education and research. One of the main agendas for the year 2009 was to establish the preconditions for this aim. During the first year of Media Factory’s development became clear that the synergies in the network were very promising. However, combining the wide scope of competences and approaches in a productive way is a complicated task. Establishing a flow of trans-disciplinary research projects with global relevance presupposes some decisive developmental steps towards an enriching trans-disciplinary research culture.

Media Factory Researchers’ Forum is a networking tool that, in its early phases, enables researchers and doctoral students in Aalto University to get acquainted with each others’ media-related research questions and methodological challenges. On this basis it will be easier to identify and solidify thematic clusters on the level of research challenges and to develop new trans-disciplinary research projects around these.

Besides its role as a trans-disciplinary research generator, the Media Factory Researchers’ Forum functions as a catalyst for media-theoretical, philosophical, political and ethical discussions.

The first Researchers’ Forum seminar was organized in April 2009. It was entitled “Mediating Art, Business, and Technology”. The focus of the seminar was on the question how to develop our network into a substantial research platform that is able to facilitate the emergence of a rich interdisciplinary research culture in Aalto University. Reijo Miettinen’s keynote lecture “Distributed innovation and the challenge of multidisciplinarity” functioned as an introduction into this theme.

The seminar confirmed the general feeling that the competences of the network participants complement each other in a multi-faceted way and that there is a real interest in developing new forms of cooperation. More than 30 researchers got the chance to become acquainted with the research interests of each other.

Now we are in the phase of building up the interdisciplinary research culture. Researchers’ forum functions as a frame for two important aspects of this work: Development of common vocabulary and critical reflection of research objectives in a wider societal context. Further, the Researchers’ Forum intends to offer a frame for discerning thematic clusters based on shared research interests that might lead to new research tracks.

Previous Researchers’ Forum Seminar “Public Space Contested. New Media Technologies, Art and Society”

Time: 12th of November, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Place: University of Art and Design Helsinki, 8th floor, design department, lecture room 885

The previous Researchers’ Forum seminar took place 12 November 2009. It was entitled “Public Space Contested. New Media Technologies, Art and Society”. The theme was developed on the basis of Media Factory’s mission statement and the research abstracts collected from the participants of the Researchers’ Forum seminar in April 2009.

Media Factory network has defined its mission in following terms:

“Media Factory is an ambitious research-driven transdisciplinary collaboration platform with emphasis on creative and human-centric experimentation that bridges art, design, technology and business. The wide scope of Media Factory enables Aalto University to become change agency of future media behaviour, media industry and role of media in society. Through its activities, Media Factory promotes openness, pluralism and societal responsibility.”

The notion “human-centric” is notoriously open to diverging interpretations. What do we mean by “human”? New media technologies have rendered this question more virulent than ever.

Human being is a social being; social bonds are essential to the constitution of subjectivity. Currently, we are witnessing a dramatic shift in the nature of social bonds: various forms of virtual encounters are becoming ever more determining for social life. Media scholars have paid attention to multiple new phenomena and trends (that are contestable): new forms of activism and addiction, age segmentation in media use, generalized irresponsibility, new types of affective intimacy, fragmentation of audiences and user groups… The Finnish philosopher and columnist Tuomas Nevanlinna has aptly nicknamed the Finnish version of ‘global village’ as ‘maailmankorpi’ (‘world-backwoods’) – a place where everybody continuously keep them selves in touch with everybody expect with their neighbours. Social life is rooted in unstable media.

The notion of ‘public space’ offers an entry to research challenges associated with the envisioned ‘human-centrism’ of Media Factory research. The more specific focus is set on new media art in terms of its innovative potential and societal impact.

10.00 Mika Elo: “Introduction: ethics of the in-between”

10.30 Laura Beloff (Univ. of Plymouth): “Wearables As An Artistic Strategy”
11.30 Discussion

13.00 Hille Koskela (HY): “Reality control”
14.00 Discussion

Project presentations/points of views:
14.30 Nuno Correia (TaiK): “Interactive Audiovisual Objects”
14.45 Discussion

15.00 Petri Saarikko (HIIT): “Designing touch in between two worlds Case study: CityWall”
15.15 Discussion

15.30 Annukka Jyrämä (HSE): “Contemporary art markets and new media art”
15.45 Discussion

16.00 Closure

Questions for discussion (proposed by the speakers):

• How to tackle the societal challenges associated with the liminal spaces ‘in-between’ the material and the virtual?
• How to conceive of the societal impact of ‘digital tools’, ‘social-engagement’, ‘participatory arts’, ‘sustainable economics’ and ‘urban sustainability’?
• What aspects of the rise of the user-generated content should our research focus on?
• Can public multi-touch imaging significantly extend the reach of individual expression? And if so, how?
• What is the relationship between power and watching/being watched?
How has it changed lately?
• What is the role of the art/artist for our future, and what its role possibly could be in the future?
• What relevance has this kind of practice for the research and development of (wearable) technology?
• What is or could be the role of artistic creativity in society or in innovation processes?
• Has the market a role in supporting societal role for artistic creativity?
• How can traditional media be transformed and remediated by the web and networked devices?
• Where lies the distinction between digital tools for creating art and new media art?

Additional readings (proposed by the speakers):

Maurice Merleau-Ponty: ‘Eye and Mind’ trans. by Carleton Dallery in The Primacy of Perception ed. by James Edie (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1964), 159-190. Revised translation by Michael Smith in The Merleau-Ponty Aesthetics Reader (1993), 121-149.

Fallman, D. (2008) “The Interaction Design Research Triangle of Design Practice, Design Exploration, and Design Studies”. Design Issues, Vol. 24, No. 3, p. 4-18, MIT Press.

Lev Manovich: “The Practice of Everyday (Media) Life: From Mass Consumption to Mass Cultural Production?” Critical Inquiry, Winter 2009. 319-331.

Koskela, Hille (2004). “Webcams, TV shows and mobile phones. Empowering exhibitionism”. Surveillance and Society, 2:2/3, 199–215.

Device Art by Machiko Kusahara

“From cyber to hybrid: Mobile technologies as interfaces of hybrid spaces” by Adriana de Souza e Silva

Bolter, Jay David and Grusin, Richard (2000), Remediation: Understanding New Media, Cambridge: MIT Press.