Spring courses

This semester I co-teach two courses (together with Prof. Lily Diaz-Kommonen) directed at MA and PhD students of the School of Arts, Design and Architecture: “Topics in Information Visualization and Cultural Analytics” and “Systems of Representation – A Culture Laboratory”. The first course combines humanistic knowledge with new media and visualization theories, practices and strategies with the objective of developing sensitive, critical understanding towards contemporary art and design, science, and technology discourses and developments. Students will learn a software tool, AtlasTi for qualitative and quantitative data analysis, creating a story using different textual sources, combining data in geographical locations, and representing networks. Through hands-on learning, we will aim to explore the topic of “The Hybrid Self” from art, design, and new media perspective. The second course, “Systems of Representation”, in turn, offers insights into a systems-oriented design approach that focuses on representation as a process related to the embodied grounding of human experience in time and space. Students will use a diversity of materials and create exhibition prototypes, including design narratives, collections of interactions, and interfaces. This year, we will have the opportunity to work with our colleagues at the ZKM museum and access digital materials from the ZKM archives that contain works and documents from the 20th and 21st century. This is gonna be a great semester and I cannot wait to see and share the outcomes!

Ellipsis exhibition

Students of the Systems of Representation: Culture Laboratory course at the Department of Media, Media Lab of Aalto University have created an exhibition named Ellipsis that is on display at the Harald Herlin Learning Centre from 15 May – 6 June 2019. The exhibition is a collaboration with the Aalto University Archives. It was a great pleasure to work with students who rediscovered archived cultural materials in a new, creative way and raised interesting questions about time, space, and materiality.

The exhibition depicts speculative design interventions related to three case studies presented in the course: Time and its Representation in Narrative, Exhibiting the Body, and Space in Digital Media. Students reused cultural materials from the Aalto University Archives in a creative way to address the following questions: How is the representation of time constructed differently in genres and narratives across different cultures and epochs? What are some of the parameters involved when exhibiting the body? How can we use media to augment our notion of space in an exhibition? Aside from historical documentation what other roles do archives fulfill in art and design productions?

One beautiful work has been made by Jennifer Greb who reused “Dekorative Vorbilder” book from 1984. It is the ornamental design book that includes dozens of pages of hand-drawn illustrations. The book is stored in the Aalto Archives. To rediscover this beautiful book, Greb has created an Augmented Reality animation to present the illustrations in a new, dynamic way. Please come and see the exhibition! More information can be found here.

Imaginary Cities

The British Library displays a wonderful exhibition created by artist Michael Takeo Magruder. “Imaginary Cities” is the transformation of the British Library’s online collection of historic urban maps into fictional cityspaces for the Information Age.

The exhibition comprises four technology-based art installations, exclusively created using images and metadata of 19th-century city maps drawn from the Library’s “One Million Images from Scanned Books” collection on Flickr Commons. It is an impressive and beautiful artwork! It shows how digitised cultural materials can be reused in a creative way and give rise to unique born-digital artifacts. “The exhibition highlights how the Library is not simply a repository of knowledge, but a storehouse of creative potential that is constantly generating new avenues for culture”.

OpenGLAM@Aalto

Tomorrow, on 28 March, Aalto University is organizing Open GLAM meetup to connect students, professionals, and creative people with the GLAM community (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums). The program includes fascinating topics about reusing and sharing open cultural heritage data. Join us: 28 March 2019, 3pm-5pm, Aalto University Learning Centre!

More info on the AvoinGLAM website which is a Finnish network of people and institutions interested in and working among open culture and cultural materials. It is part of an international OpenGLAM network.

The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art

George Walton Lucas Jr., an American filmmaker and the creator of the Star Wars, is about to open the museum called the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art in Los Angeles. The concept design of the futuristic-looking museum in Exposition Park is astounding. It assumes that the house will collect his some 10,000 paintings and book, and magazine illustrations assembled over decades. Without a doubt, the museum will attract tourists, fans of Star Wars, artists, humanists, researchers, futurists, and many other!

More: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/10/arts/design/george-lucas-will-open-museum-of-narrative-art-in-los-angeles.html?smid=fb-share

Play the Knave

Play the Knave is a new type of theater where the players control figures displayed on the screen by bodily movements and voice. This kind of theater created in the realm of virtual reality with an immersive video game is developed by the University of California Davis. The first impression is amazing! I would really love to experience it personally!

 

3D-printed Rembrandt

The Next Rembrandt” is astounding 3D-printed Rembrandt painting designed by a team of developers with the technical support of Microsoft and backing from Dutch bank ING. The aim of project was to create new work “made by Rembrandt” by using data from his existing paintings. Designed software system recognizes Rembrandt based on his use of geometry, composition, and painting materials. Then software replicates his style and also generates new facial features what was probably the biggest challenge. Distilling the artistic DNA from piece to create new work shows again incredible capabilities of new technology, software system, digital tools and “big data” in the art and humanities.

AI novel

Can a computer write poetry? Oscar Schwartz in his fascinating presentation during TedxYouth in Sydney left no doubts that computer can create poetry sounding like William Blake’s or Frank O’Hara’s poems. Further, algorithm can produce poem sounding so much better than poem of not one outstanding poet. What is more, it turns out that artificial intelligence (AI) can compete with human for a literary award.

The Hoshi Shinichi Literary Award is only prize involving human and applicants who are not human beings (AI programs and others). However, this year was the first time when submitted literary texts were created by coauthorship between human and ‘nonhuman beings’: AI programs. Among 1,450 novels received in the competition, 11 works involved AI programs.

AI novel called “The Day A Computer Writes A Novel” was produced by Hitoshi Matsubara and his team at Future University Hakodate in Japan. Although AI novel did not win the final prize, it passed the first screening process for a domestic literary prize. According to jury, the meta-narrative was not enough good to get the prize. It turns out that while structure and mechanism of novel were programmed very well, character descriptions were poor created. It is only a matter of time, when machine improves a programming of more ‘human’ part of text. Nevertheless, this is just the beginning of literary competition between human and nonhuman being.