“On May 31, 2018, at 7pm, MOBIUS Fellowship Program of the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York will partner with PUBLICS, the Helsinki curatorial agency and event space, to put the artists and curators in conversation about their collaboration. Working with PUBLICS’ own on-site library, we will consider how knowledge institutions and infrastructures will have to adapt to accommodate new computational forms of intelligence while still upholding their obligations to their various human publics. The event will examine the many “AIs” of the library and contemporary culture: artificial intelligence, architectural intelligence, animal intelligence and artistic intelligence.”
“MOBIUS fellows Jussi Parikka (University of Southampton, Winchester School of Art, UK) and Shannon Mattern (The New School, US) have commissioned Finnish artists and designers Samir Bhowmik, Tuomas Aleksander Laitinen, and Jenna Sutela to create works that examine the new intelligences our evolving knowledge institutions accommodate. Installed in the new Central Library in January 2019, these projects will reveal the alternative, sometimes alien logics of neural nets, give voice to machinic and otherworldly languages, and make visible the material and informational infrastructures that allow intelligence to circulate. The artists are known for their work that engages with AI, biological intelligence, digital culture, and infrastructures and energies of modern societies, and they represent some of the most interesting forms of current technological art practices.”
The Circuit Breaker is a networked sonic art installation that critiques the culture of constant connectivity.
The installation takes the form of a hybrid electrical-digital infrastructure linked to a distributed network of online participants. Network connectivity is dependent on an array of electrical circuit breakers, browsing analytics, personal energy data and a pre-determined set of algorithmic variables. Participants will have to balance ‘Load Factor’, a concept of diversity of use and geography borrowed from electrical power systems to maintain constant connectivity. The network load if not balanced will be at the risk of disruption marked by the dissonant sonic event of the tripping circuit breakers.
I also presented the Community Power Bank (CPB) workshops at Pixelache Helsinki in 2015–16.The project recycled Lithium 18650 batteries with community participation and re- purposed them to build power banks for handheld media devices. The workshops were conducted at the Museum of Photography and at the OSCE (Open Source Circular Economy) Days in Helsinki, Finland.
The lecture kickstarted the BioSignals project, a series of site-specific sound art, narrations and nature-based data streams by human and non-human cultural producers during Summer-Autumn 2018, culminating with a contribution to the next Pixelache Helsinki Festival in Spring 2019. The artistic content of the project will focus on creative and actual interpretations of biosemiotics, energy as media and communication. Biosemiotics is an increasingly influential paradigm of thinking which brings together biology and communication, signs and signals of life in its myriad forms. In particular it offers conceptual tools to consider communications and environmental meaning-making from a non-human perspective, including plant and lichens, animal, bacterial, elemental interactors, via tactile, aural and signal-based biochemical means. The BioSignals project is part of Pixelache Helsinki’s Parasite Radio process, in collaboration with Korppiradio, and financially supported by Nordisk Kulturkontakt Art and Culture programme.
I presented a Lecture-Workshop at the University of the Arts – Department of Printmaking with the artist duo IC-98: Patrik Söderlund and Visa Suonpää. The lecture explored the political economy of portable energy storage, ie. batteries. In the following workshop we broke open laptop battery packs, to uncover lithium batteries which were then tested for re-use.
The lecture-workshop was part of IC-98’s course: “Post-Fossil Life and Post-Apocalypotic Art”
The Finnish Cultural Foundation awarded me a grant for post-doctoral research on February 27, 2017. [Renewed for until 2019] The title of the research is: ‘The Materialities of Digital Memory‘; Old Title: ‘The Museum is the Message: An Archaeology of Power, Media and Materiality of Digital Heritage’.
Abstract: The study aims to address the ecological impact of digital heritage on cultural memory. It seeks to understand the wider context of memory institutions such as museums and archives, their user communities and the memory they foster as based in media infrastructures, energy and material resources. Despite much research on the themes of media ecologies, eco-critical media and digital heritage, scholars have not yet fully explored when, why and how did memory institutions turn so ‘mediatic’, so dependent on computational hardware and processes that are currently sustained by rare earth minerals and fossil fuels. Not many studies have been conducted on the energetic entanglement of media with memory and representation. How do increasing entanglements of computational memory, embodied energy of media infrastructures and the memory embedded in digital collections together form a complex and composite memory? What is the environmental burden of such digital memory and how it affects user communities? By excavating the configuration of the memory institution, its computing dependencies, energy use in digitization, representation and collections, the study will analyze the emerging ecological impacts and how those impacts in turn shape cultural memory. Finally, the study’s goal is to develop critical models through community engagement, participative systems and open media infrastructures for incorporating ecological media into institutions of memory and cultural heritage.
I was invited by Dr. Wolfgang Ernst (Professor of Media Theory) to conduct post-doctoral research (2017-18) at the Institute for Musicology and Media Studies, Humboldt University Berlin. The research topic closely follows my doctoral dissertation, and expands into the materiality of digital memory: “The Museum is the Message: An Archaeology of Power, Media and Materiality of Digital Heritage”. The study aims to address the ecological impact of digital heritage on cultural memory. It seeks to understand the wider context of memory institutions such as museums and archives, their user communities and the memory they foster as based in media infrastructures, energy and material resources.
The public defense of my doctoral dissertation: “Deep Time of the Museum / The Materiality of Media Infrastructures” was held on Friday December 2, 2016,12.00 at the Aalto Media Factory Auditorium, Hämeentie 135A, 00560 Helsinki. The dissertation includes case studies and projects done at the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, Gallen-Kallela Museum and Hakaniemi Market Square.
Custos: Professor Lily Diáz, Aalto University Department of Media.
Deep Time of the Museum / The Materiality of Media Infrastructures
What is the environmental burden carried by museums? What is the material and energetic footprint of digital heritage? How can the cultural assets of memory institutions be sustained in an age of increasing black-boxed media technologies, obsolescence and toxic waste? The dissertation aims to address these challenges through a multi-disciplinary and materialist approach toward museums, media and cultural heritage. By an extensive excavation of the museum as a media infrastructure, the study seeks to understand the materiality of digital heritage as based in the growing entanglements of media devices, energy and material resources. Two experimental design interventions within and beyond the museum walls are presented that explore novel ecological media infrastructures and operative methods. Finally, a design framework is synthesized that provides guidelines for museums and their user communities toward shaping an ecological institution.
In an age of increasing media devices, infrastructure and energy needs, how can we develop community-shared power systems? How could artistic production benefit from energy independence and also address environmental concerns? Our aim is to build a community power bank (electrical energy storage) by recycling fuel cells, building portable battery packs for community and artistic use. The initial workshops are an introduction to our community-participated energy project and includes a hands-on introduction to recycling Lithium-ion 18650 cells from consumer battery packs. Participants are guided to safely dismantle batteries, test, identify and recover functional cells. They learn how to design various cell arrangements to create variable voltage power batteries. Finally, they are assisted to build and maintain recycled USB power banks.
Two workshops have already been held in June 2016:
My PhD research project was awarded a Kone Foundation Grant on 9 December 2014. “Powering the Shareable Museum” explores a participatory and sustainable framework for open access and sharing of artifacts and narratives between museums and their user communities. It examines current mechanisms utilized by museums for synchronizing digital and cloud assets with online audiences and museum spaces to encourage participation. It investigates how social sharing and open access to digital collections affects energy-use and audience engagement. By implementation and analyses of various museum-installation projects and museum-energy studies undertaken between 2012-15, this project-driven thesis attempts to synthesize the learning outcomes into working principles for museums. The principles constitute a multidisciplinary social, digital and spatial framework and may help structure creative and collaborative processes in museums that could be sustainable.
THE BATTERY IS THE MESSAGE
When media start to explode in your hands, it deserves a description. When it causes airplane evacuations, general panic and hysteria, it warrants an examination. When it quietly dies in your pocket before the end of an eight hour work day just like the other two billion smartphones, it deserves an explanation. It is reasonable to believe that a ‘Thermal Runaway’ event is far more spectacular than a quiet smartphone death. Leakages take place, fire and toxic chemicals are involved, possibly leading to personal bodily injury. It can be traumatic. Thermal Runaway is today one of the prime modes of battery failure. Chemical reactions within raise its internal temperature, and if not dissipated, the temperature keeps rising that will further accelerate the reactions causing even more heat to be produced, eventually resulting in an explosion. Especially a Lithum-ion cell above a certain temperature, its internal chemical reactions out of control, will explode.
NOTE: The thoughts in the following article came about during the Community Power Bank(CPB) workshops at Pixelache Helsinki in 2015–16.The project recycled Lithium 18650 batteries with community participation and re- purposed them to build power banks for handheld media devices. The workshops were conducted at the Museum of Photography and at the OSCE (Open Source Circular Economy) Days in Helsinki, Finland. All acknowledgements are due to the participants and colleagues in this project. For more information see: http://samirbhowmik.cc/2016/06/22/community-power-bank-recycling-lithium-ion-battery-workshops-2016/
The Digital Strategies for Museums and Cultural Heritage Course (DOM E-5064) at the Department of Media, Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture collaborates with the Design Museum Finland in Autumn 2016 to explore paths to digital engagement for Finnish Design Heritage. The course presents a theoretical and practical overview of design strategies for museums and digital heritage. It runs from September 19 – December 2, 2016. See course website for more details: http://digitalmuseum.mlog.taik.fi
The International Journal for Intangible Heritage has published our article: Hot Stones & Cool Digitals: Sustainable Contact Zones for Intangible Cultural Heritage in Finland, in Volume 11, pages 161-172. The article shows that a combination of community participation and ICT (Information and Communications Technology) could be an effective way of promoting communities as on-site contexts for intangible cultural heritage (ICH). James Clifford’s Museums as Contact Zones (1997) serves as a theoretical and practical basis for this approach. Two community-based museum projects are documented here that were conducted in Finland between 2012 and 2014: a community-based digitisation project with the Gallen-Kallela Museum in Espoo, and a museum installation in the Hakaniemi Market Square in Helsinki to which members of the local community were the major contributors. Both projects demonstrated that it is possible for a community to foster ICH through participation, collaboration, borrowing from museum practices and by the application of emerging digital technologies.
International Journal of Intangible Heritage: ijih.org/
HACKING PERISCOPE (2016): Live Broadcasting of Cultural Heritage Videos
How to inject a freshness into old cultural heritage videos? How to use live video streaming for cultural heritage? What if we could Live Broadcast old cultural heritage videos into social networks? What kind of viewers we would get? Will the broadcasts attract replays, shares, likes and follows? How would this assist open cultural heritage?
In this experiment, we use Periscope, a location-based live video streaming app. We broadcast videos from the archives of the Swedish Literature Society (SLS) Finland: https://vimeo.com/album/2706285
The project was part of the #HACK4FI 2016 event in Helsinki, February 2016.
KERPLINK (2015): A Dating & Social Discovery Application for Cultural Heritage
The application was inspired by Tinder, a location based dating and social discovery application. The app allows users to log in with Facebook, like/dislike open cultural heritage images from the Europeana database, the Cooper Hewitt open source collection and the Flickr Commons. Users get matched with fellow users based on similarities in image liking and browsing history. They could then engage in chats with the matched user and maybe even meet up.
The project was part of the #HACK4FI 2015 event in Helsinki, February 2015.
In Autumn 2015, we collaborated with EMMA Espoo Museum of Modern Art for a course at the Department of Media Aalto University. Our primary goal was to analyze and understand the modern art museum and to formulate strategic digital approaches.
The structure of the course was designed to cover the museum system and its various parts and operations. Every class had a lecture component in the first half and a ‘make’ component in the second. The lectures were about storytelling, community participation, spatial design and digital strategies and applications for museums. These were followed by an in-class workshop where the students worked by themselves or together on tasks assigned resulting in a class presentation and critiques. The tasks assigned included How to curate your own collection, applying a narrative structure to your collection, building participation with museum audience, imagining the spatial needs, and formulating digital strategies.
“Powering the Cooper Hewitt” project will investigate a sustainable framework for the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. It will explore a participatory relationship between design collections, color search, user- communities and energy use of the museum. It will examine the links between energy & social metrics of museum’s user communities, analyzes carbon footprints and behavior of accessing digital artifacts by community from the museum’s collections. Finally, it aims to implement a participatory museum installation wherein the museum’s saved energy fosters a collection of its community’s design objects and energy stories matched to the museum’s own cloud collections.
Recently launched social media network “Ello” is currently receiving upto 31,000 requests by the hour. (numbers vary based on sources) Placed as an anti-facebook, anti-commercial network dedicated to users, Ello, or the phenomenon of Ello can only be seen as a rebellion towards structured commercialized social networks. It could potentially damage Facebook. Or it may just disappear as another Arab Spring. The awareness is growing that Users are fed up being a product and having their data sold to companies. Networks are no longer organic, currently I would say “synthetic” after all the algorithmical cosmetic treatments. Yet users have also remained complacent and tethered to familiarity and peer pressure. But it could be that this is the beginning of more challenges yet to come. As it has been foreseen, all the existing social networks will be challenged. We are on the edge of a paradigm shift to Social Networks 2.0., the emergence of a plethora of smaller networks and a true plurality. Should museums be worried about this?
I will be teaching this Autumn 2014 a new course at Media Lab that presents a theoretical and practical overview of digital strategies for museums and cultural heritage. Students will develop their own micro-digital archive, supported by how-to lectures in a ‘make’ environment, and will have the opportunity to curate their collections collaboratively. The course will be divided into two Phases. The first Phase, ‘Understanding the Strategies and Tools of Digital Cultural Heritage’, will provide practical knowledge of metadata, born-digital collecting, and preservation planning. The second Phase, ‘Advancing the Digital Archive for Interpretation’ will focus on managing online archives and digital curation. In addition, students will be asked to consider the impact of social media and museum user communities on digital archives. The course will further situate the student exercises by considering the aspect of sustainable ICT (internet & communication technologies) and its implications in the creation, management and interfacing of digital heritage.
The class will be structured to balance theory and practice. There will be Guest Lecturers throughout the course from various archives and museums. Once a week. 1,5 Hour lecture followed by 1 hour Making/Discussion workshop. (approx 2.5 hours) 3.30pm - 6pm. Mondays.
It was not quite long ago that I was sitting down and analyzing numbers from my latest museum project, its social metrics, visitor counts, google analytics and other random geeky tools I dug up or chanced upon from the Internet. And it crossed my mind, that i was merely peeking into a singular window of statistics and data, getting sunk into a data wormhole of one museum and being close to myopic in vision and judgement. Yes, I had plenty of metrics to drool on, and they would be enough for me to beat my drum in another adrenalized conference. But I had a nagging feeling that without any reference data, metrics of other museums in my neighborhood, their audience activities, and data that could be compared with, I had no right to claim that my project was successful! After all, in today’s world we are all interconnected and that includes museums too. And what about social change affected by my project? Did my data in any form displayed that? Or initiating acts of socially conscious projects that I have been working on for the last few years? How could I be sure that by merely gathering social metrics data of a museum project that I had effected some sort of new conscientious or altruistic thinking among my audience?
This proposal is for an art installation project to visualize the digital collections of the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum New York in context of its energy use, user-community and color search. It is the final exposition of a year-long project: MEMI (Museum Energy Model Interface) that explores a participatory relationship between art collections, color search, user-communities and energy use of the museum. The MEMI project in itself explores a digital search and monitoring methodology that not only strives to be a tool to access collections, but also records and analyses ICT-based processes of the online Collections Wall of the National Design Museum. It explores the links between energy & social metrics of museum’s user communities, analyzes carbon footprints and behavior of accessing digital artifacts by community from the museum’s collections. The “Color is History” Art installation will try to gather and combine the museum’s art collections, its energy use data, its user-community participation analytics, color tagging of individual artifacts and their respective narratives. It will stream continuous displays of color, artifacts, narratives and energy on the Museum floor (see System Diagram). The art installation will be fed content through a public online interface based on a Django web application framework & programmed in Python language. This interface/web application will access the open API (application programming interface) of the Museum’s digital collections. The physical installation itself will constitute of programmed LED displays, Arduino microprocessors and on-site computers. The saved energy use of the museum combined with online participation by its users will be channelled through the local energy provider to power the installation.
When I met Seb Chan, the Director of Digital & Emerging Media of the Smithsonian Cooper- Hewitt Labs, National Design Museum, New York, on the sidelines of MuseumNext Amsterdam in May 2013, we talked about how to make collections more visible to museum visitors and engage the community. How we could transform the digital repository into a tangible being, how to place the museum building on the internet and make it participatory. How to weave issues of energy and sustainability into the daily practices of a museum. After some research and consultation with artist colleagues, curator friends and computer programmers, I started thinking of how one would explore a participatory relationship between online digital collections, color search, user-communities and energy use of the museum. This is a research in process and the outcomes are open ended.
Talking about the Light is History Participatory Museum Installation at MuseumNext 2014 Conference, Newcastle-Gateshead on 20 June. Speaking schedule: http://www.museumnext.org/schedule/ See tumblr site for more details about the installation: lightishistory.tumblr.com/ Follow me live on Twitter @Samir_Bhowmik
The Final Community Theme Day took place at the Gallen-Kallela Museum in Tarvaspää, Espoo on the 26th of April. The day was also Finnish National Artist Akseli Gallen-Kallela’s 149th Birth Anniversary. The event was organized by the digGLAM Project from Media Lab Helsinki, the Department of Computer Science, Aalto & the representatives of the Gallen-Kallela Museum. This special event was an occasion for Remixing the digital archive of the Museum: “HalooAkseli.fi” that was designed, constructed and developed between 2013 -14.
The following is a conceptual “Mission Statement” for Helsinki Art Museum for 2020. All views and opinions are mine and not of the institution:
The future Helsinki Art Museum of 2020 has been envisioned as a social space and a platform for Art, Cultural Objects, Artists, Workshops and Communities in the local techno-arts multi-cultural geography of Helsinki. Our aim is to generate Participation, Connectivity, Creativity, Interactivity and Making by community through Art.
Haloo Akseli a public domain Open Access digital archive was launched for Gallen-Kallela Museum on February 9 2014. The archive is based on national Finnish Artist Akseli Gallen-Kallela’s 1920s Phonebook. The Phonebook contains his artist friends such as Albert Edelfelt, Ida Aalberg and a network of colleagues from Maxim Gorky to Karl Fazer. Here his acquaintances and their works, their art as related to Gallen-Kallela himself are to be collected, and displayed. The archive is licensed under Creative Commons.
Ida Aalberg, Albert Edelfelt, Karl Fazer – Akseli Gallen-Kallela’s phone book from the 1920s is full of familiar names. See who’s in it, and join in the making of Gallen-Kallela’s Virtual Phone Book on the Theme Day February 9th at Gallen-Kallela Museum!
Aalto University’s Media Lab in collaboration with Gallen-Kallela Museum are building an open access digital archive based on Gallen-Kallela’s contacts in his original phone book. The archive will hold information in the form of micro-histories, connected to Gallen-Kallela and his network of friends, colleagues and acquaintances. This includes photos, texts and quotes from the museum’s archives – as well as pictures, postcards, memories and stories that the visitors of the Theme Day are invited to bring in.
Has the Guggenheim arrived and arrived for sure? Now, that the battle site for the new Museum has been selected, it is time for us to review in retrospect, shoot darts for the future and set up tents and demonstrations..(or not!).
Light is History is now tentatively scheduled for 2016 in Amsterdam in cooperation with a local Museum, Power company and a local public school. The project will be designed and formatted during 2014 -15 in consultation with local partners.
The Digital Heritage Congress was hosted in the spectacular Museum complex between Villa Mediterranee and MuCEM between October 28 – November 1 near the old Marseille Waterfront. As a venue it does not get any better.
Among the first things that I came across at the Congress was a Portable low-cost open source 3d Scanner built by researchers in the IIT (Indian Institute of Technology) that one can easily assemble and is quite accurate. This was for me one of the few highlights of the Congress. A true ground-up project made with little resources and made for community.….where one could 3d scan artifacts on the move. Among the others attended, there was more of the in-house institutional development of technologies that had little to do with the outside and museum world.
I attended a workshop about building Heritage Competence Centres, where Halina Gotlieb showed how Swedish Interactive Institute was built and is operated. V-Must also showed how it is structured and operated. Another was Impact from Spain(digitisation.eu). I continued on to another session to design an Innovation Model for a Digital Heritage Centre, where we played around with Value, partnerships, budgets, outreach etc. It has helped me understand how to deploy a model in the context of Finland.
A visit to the MMSH Aix-en-Provence: The Maison Méditerranéenne des Sciences de l’Homme
General presentation of the structure: Brigitte MARIN, director of the Maison Méditerranéenne des Sciences de l’Homme (Unité Mixte de Recherche Temps, Espaces, Langage, Europe Méridionale-Méditerranée, Laboratoire d’excellence- Méditerranée) http://www.mmsh.univ-aix.fr
The Mediterranean Audiovisual Memories, a huge corpus of archives easily accessible to all: http://www.medmem.eu/
Attended a Tutorial and workshop by Katherine Biggs of the British Museum (Samsung Digital Discovery Centre). Learnt about how BA builds digital learning lessons using their collections for young audiences. We designed a workshop based on the available resources, tech. equipment, and presented it to the participants. It was interesting to see a partnership between a private tech. company and a museum for learning.
Attended a talk on “Comparing 3D digitizing technologies” by Agora3D Project by 4 Belgian Museums. learnt about various options in terms of cost, resolution, output etc.
Overall, the conference was filled with technology demonstrations (especially 3d) and archaeology, but lacked in other humanities, communities and design. Also, there was not much topics on Sustainability and Energy. There was little representation from the Museums themselves, and hardly any curators. But I would highly recommend this Conference for Technology updates in the Digital Heritage Sector.
Assorted Tweets and Images on Storify: http://storify.com/Samir_Bhowmik/digital-heritage-congress-2013-marseille
The World Wide Web has become the de-facto platform for a variety of cultural heritage resources in recent years. A powerful democratic tool, it allows us to access digital heritage from Museums and heritage institutions around the world. Here, collections can be displayed without the limitations of physical space and location. On the Web, there are no small Museums or large Museums. Its a level playing field where beautiful interface design, creative showcasing of Museum collections, access and participation by community can propel former insignificant and buried collections into the midst of contemporary culture and into conversation about in town.
From the banks of the River Aura, there sits an inconspicuous looking building complex embedded into the urban riverfront fabric of the oldest city of Finland. At first glance one can easily overlook the Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova Museum passing by, but for the curious and the adventurous it would lead to a veritable treasure house of Turku’s medieval history and a temple for the contemporary arts.
According to Director Jette Sandahl, the Museum of Copenhagen is attempting to play a larger role in creating urban identity in Copenhagen, to help residents identify firstly as Copenhageners irrespective of origin and help maintain and promote a beautiful historical and artistic city. For her, the city museum, being the custodian of the city’s past heritage and a continuing cultural present, is in a perfect place to become the mediator and cultivator of the city’s cultural life and projects. Here, the role of the city museum in the urban fabric has become a place for contact and creating outreach among citizens and the Museum of Copenhagen is thereby positioning itself both as a co-creator and as co-custodian on behalf of all Copenhageners.
A night view of The Museum of Copenhagen’s “Wall” Photo by Casper Miskin, Museum of Copenhagen
The energy artifacts from the Light is History 2012 Installation has been collected and displayed online: http://lightishistory.tumblr.com . This is a preliminary attempt at creating an online repository of objects related to energy and contemporary nordic material culture. All the artefacts displayed here with their narratives were donated by the 16 participating families from Kallio neighbourhood of Helsinki, during the “Light is History” installation, November 24th – December 1st. 2012.
An exhibition of the Art Deco Movement: a selection of French and Finnish art produced between the years 1905 -1935 is on display at the Amos Anderson Art Musuem, the largest private art museum in Helsinki (8.3.-21.7.2013) Museum Link: http://www.amosanderson.fi These wonderful pieces of Art Deco sculpture, paintings, sculpture and furniture are currently on loan from various museums in France such as the Musée des Arts Décoratifs and Musee des Beaux Arts, and from Finland such as Kiasma, Ateneum and the Turku City Art Collection.
Annie Fletcher the Exhibitions Curator of Vanabbe Museum, Eindhoven, Netherlands delivered a lecture:“The Museum and its Uses: Deploying the Vanabbe Museum” at the EMMA(Espoo Museum of Modern Art) Espoo on 20th March 2013. The lecture was also part of the CUMMA Discourse series #7. CuMMA (Curating, Managing and Mediating Art) is a multidisciplinary Master’s degree program at Aalto University ARTS focused on contemporary art.
The Teema 13 Seminar was held at the Ateneum Art Museum, which I attended online following the various lectures, videos and tweets. The seminar discussed the availability and usability of public information and cultural heritage materials. One of the tasks of museums is of providing information about cultural heritage openly to the public, so how can this be best organized and managed in a changing world?
The “Light is History” project in November 2012 involved a participatory Museum installation that served as a research object in a public square in the Nordic city of Helsinki. It investigated community participation, energy use, and new media approaches in the public display of energy artifacts from contemporary Nordic material culture. Participating families were requested to inform of their energy consumption and publish their daily energy use for one week onto the project web portal. This data was used to determine the brightness of the individual therapy lamps and to light the artifact displays of the installation for over one week. This research exercise demonstrated that community members were willing to anonymously display information of their personal artifacts and its use in the public place and share their energy use information for the common wellbeing. New media technologies and participatory action was able to bridge the private to the public spaces, the individual to the collective, and exhibit the community’s material culture and energy patterns. The project also established that a shared and collaborative installation space that mimics a museum can be created outside the museum walls that is open-sourced, sustainable, and participatory. The project received funding from Aalto Media Factory at Aalto University and was co-organized in the context of Pixelache / Pixelversity’s Talking (Trash) Lab Lecture Series.
The installation was on view at Hakaniementori from 25.1 to 1.12, from 17 to 19 daily.
Kuusitoista Kalliolaista perhettä on julkistanut päivittäisen energiakulutuksensa nettiportaalissa Light is History-installaatiota varten. Päivittäisen energiankulutuksen erot määrittävät installaatiossa olevien valojen kirkkautta. Kirkkaat valot toimivat kuten kirkasvalolamput, joten ne piristävät ohikulkijoita pimeänä vuodenaikana. Valot on tehty kierrätetyistä, uusiin vaihdetuista sähkömittareista. Osana installaatiota toimii kuvasarja, joka kuvaa teoksen osallistujien päivittäin käyttämiään sähkölaitteita. Yhteisöllinen energiateos Hakaniementorilla visualisoi energian kulutusta avoimessa tilassa. Se elää kaupunkilaisten arjen mukana, jonka olennainen osa energian käyttö on.
Our Energy Art Community Installation ” Light is History” was on demo exhibition at the Helsinki’s first ever D.I.Y. festival: Wärkfest 2012, 20 – 21.10 in Cable Factory Helsinki. The first modular unit, consisting of a therapy lamp and a display case (recycled out of trash electrical meters discarded by the metering company Mitox) was installed on a mannequin borrowed from the Fashion Department for a temporary installation in the exhibition hall. There were a considerable amount of visitors and people from the DIY community visiting our temporary installation and provided us a lot of interesting feedback. Information about the installation, participation forms and recycled electrical meters were on display at our desk. Kids were especially interested in all the inside workings and parts of the electrical meters, one even(pictured above) took home a few pieces, and came back next morning to show his own gadget that he had created overnight. We were also able to sign up participants and distribute information to prospective communities. Most people that signed up were interested in the participatory aspect of donating energy for light therapy in public and also about the community interaction it could generate at the site of the installation. Among others were also visitors who cared about saving energy and reducing their carbon footprint. I also presented the project on the main stage of the festival on Saturday 17.45 using slides of our presentation and the demo modular unit. Now, we have almost reached the upper limit of participants, however still looking for a few more dedicated participants from the Kallio area. We had applied earlier for an art installation permit in Hakaniemi Square (Hakaniementori) which is a central public and community location in Kallio, and today 22.10 we have received permission to put up the installation there! We have also already agreed with Helsingin Energia to provide us with support with this project. The tentative dates of the installation are: 24.11 – 01.12.2012 Hakaniementori, Helsinki.
Presented my updated research plan “The Post-Oil Museum: Building a Sustainable Framework for Heritage Institutions and their User Communities at the Modern Identities Conference at the Ateneum Art Museum, Helsinki on Friday 12th. Other presenters were my colleagues from Medialab, Aalto ARTS including Head of Research Lily Diaz. An interesting presentation was by Sofia Pescarin, CNR (National Research Council) national coordinator of the research “Virtual Heritage: integrated digital technologies for the understanding, and communication of CH through VR systems”. She presented the Virtual Museum Network (V-MUST.NET) framework that addresses the several types of VR museums created around the world until now and how it will try to address open problems and potential further developments in the domain. Themes of the conference were around: Artistic Exchange, The Question of Identity, Gesamtkunstwerk as an ideology in the European Context.
The first ever Ecomuseum Conference organized by the Greenlines Institute was held in Seixal, Portugal between 19 – 21st September. I was a delegate and observer to the proceedings for 3 days that included international museum professionals from around the world who expressed their views about the new generation of upcoming ecomuseums. The conference also included a day tour of all the local Ecomuseums of Seixal., and a sailing boat trip on the river Tagus!
SERDE, an arts residency in Aizpute, Latvia organized a 3 day workshop: “Transdisciplinary Arts, Ethnography and Cultural Heritage Workshop” from 24 – 26 May 2012, where I organized a 2 hour instant community participated museum (see system diagram @ end of the post) for a local weavers association, we were able to crowd-document the whole 2 hours with the help of the workshop organizers SERDE and the participants.
All Photos (c) Kati Hyppä
Trashlab monthly events, at Media Factory as part of Pixelversity 2012 programme (Pixelache Helsinki), aimed to explore experimental art-design-technology practice between hacker and maker cultures, in the context of re/up-cycling and the increased availability of new fabrication tools.
Trashlab’s objective is to build up a community of people (artists, designers, hackers, makers, re/up-cyclers, activists) inside and outside Aalto context, who are concerned with material and electronic waste in contemporary society, and tackle this problem with creative and tangential approaches.
A lecture series called ‘Talking Trash(lab) was organised to complement, which invited local, regional and European guests to speak on related topics, as a presentation on Friday early evening before each Trashlab workshop in Pixelversity 2012 calendar. In addition, ‘Light is History’ project was followed as case-example throughout the year for the overlaps fostered by Trashlab.
A GPS based video animation installation that charts the tram movements of Helsinki in real time and generates color patterns using heat signatures in the surrounding air, a process similar to the aurora borealis seen in the north of Finland.
Presented a poster on my doctoral research topic: “Post-Oil Museum: Imagining Museums beyond Oil” at Linköping University, SWEDEN for the European Science Foundation Conference: “Re-thinking the Contact Zone”
My public art installation was on view for 2 hours at the Ateneum Art Museum as part of the 120 MUSE/UM Exhibition
Text Abstract of Installation /
Public urination, politics and political manipulation are the vices of our urban society. While politicians manipulate, the people urinate. Politics allows control over people, governance and the future our world, while public urination allows the desecration of our urban environment. Both, at some level permit the manipulation of our surroundings. The P-Wall brings together these two disparate phenomena in an effort to initiate a discussion about our civil society.
As vintage cars from the early 20th century kept rolling into the Market Square of Helsinki yesterday’s summer evening, I had this eerie feeling of being present in a special moment of recreating history. The automobiles that were stacked like in an exhibition display on the square and the dressed up audience together created an experience that could have existed a few decades ago. The scene was from an american mid-west town and not some northern scandinavian market square! The fact that these automobile hot-rods of the yesteryears were only for the show and the supporting cast of humans attired in the rockabilly style made the whole event a sort of a performance for me. I am sure, the community of the hot-rod owners and supporting cast did not think the same. For them, it was the coming together of friends and families who shared or continue sharing a past that is no longer viable.
So what made this community gathering of antique car owners and enthusiasts a museum?
First of all, the cars on display themselves were antiques, artifacts from a distant oil age, when the automobile reigned supreme. Secondly, the supporting cast of the antique car owners and their associates were dressed in spirit of their times, thus creating a surreal atmosphere that rarely exists normally on market square. A time frozen fashion along with a festive spirit with performance music made it all the more an appealing outdoor museum. The ambience was that of a long lost community making themselves seen and heard in our modern times. Thirdly, there were lessons to be learnt, aesthetics to be discussed, mechanics to be examined for the visitors and tourists, who in this case were the museum visitors. The artifacts were not enclosed in vitrine making them more accessible to the visitors. There was no curator as such, but more like a community participated curation. This community of antique car owners were themselves the organizers, the jurists and the learners. I noticed that they helped each other with lessons in automobile mechanics, informed the local citizens about the cars and hung out with each other in good cheer. So the question that arose in mind, was how can such a community be relevant to society, to our current energy crisis and how could it raise questions of sustainability? Should this instant community museum have a pedagogical effect on the visitors and tourists? We obviously can see how this gas-guzzling automobiles are no longer relevant in today’s society. It is almost criminal to drive daily to work on one of those beasts! Can we learn something from this? Will we also be strutting around our high energy intensive appliances on this market square a century from now?
This is an architectural and exhibition entry to a National competition call in 2008 for the design of a national pavilion for Finland in the World Expo 2010 at Shanghai.
Our design presented the pavilion as the bark of a Koivu (Birch) tree, rough on the exterior, smooth and sophisticated in the interior, somewhat representing the Finnish personality. It is reflected in the culture, the lifestyle and the architecture where truth, simplicity and beauty are held supreme. A self-contained world wherein self-realization and self-exploration create a new philosophy. The architecture of the Finnish pavilion represents this concept.
In the glitter and brightness of the world’s expo, the Finnish pavillion is a building turned outside in. Introverted in approach, it creates a separate and protected world in a foreign land. At a place where other pavilions are competing and clamouring for attention, the Finnish pavillion subtly attracts people who are willing and interested to delve and discover the finnish culture and traditions.