Part project at the Academy of Fine Arts Helsinki:

PI professor Mika Elo, postdoctoral researcher Tuula Närhinen
















Peer-reviewed articles and expositions:


Tuula Närhinen, "Epistemic Bugs at Worldmaking", Ruukku –  Studies in Artistic Research #14, 2020.


This text-based exposition looks at epistemic affordances embedded in the insect condition. Drawing from the scientific study of insects, my project INSECTS AMONG US sets out to fathom insects’ ephemeral existence through art works. A rich media presentation of the project is available in the RC: INSECTS AMONG US was exhibited at the Helsinki Uniarts Research Pavilion 2019 on Giudecca Island in Venice. The Pavilion housed a series of small-scale site-specific installations that visually and acoustically mediated the eerie life worlds of insects to human ears and eyes.


Tuula Närhinen, "Do It Yourself, Rain! Dabbling Drops, Splashes, and Waves: Experiments in Art and Science", Leonardo 2022-12-01.

DOI: 10.1162/leon_a_02280 


The author’s visual practice draws from the natural sciences. Playful installations create “portraits” of naturally occurring  phenomena. The artworks invite the viewer to witness the spontaneous emergence of patterns and traces induced by water. Facilitated by the artist, the drops and splashes are allowed to manifest in autographic renderings, generated by exposing sensitized substrates to rainfall or to waves. The article describes the empiric scientific method, followed by a discussion of the information the visual inscriptions contain. Drawing analogies between the experimental approaches of art and science, the article considers the impact of images in shaping the world we inhabit.


Mika Elo, "Towards academic publishing in medias res", Commmunicazioni sociali 1/2021. DOI 10.26350/001200_000107

The article discusses challenges of multimodal publishing in academic contexts with specific focus  on  the  epistemic  role  of  images  in  research  publications  in  the  area  of  artistic  research.  Through a series of examples, the article attempts at showing that research in and through the arts raises the stakes of epistemic presentation because it thematises the mode of presentation as part of the subject matter. This calls for media sensitivity and new conceptual models for epistemic operations. Some of the challenges at the core of artistic research are highlighted with regard to models of “aesthetic research” and “expositionality”. Finally, the article addresses the tensional interplay of aesthetic and epistemic research processes and proposes a diplomatic approach in the spirit  of  Isabelle  Stengers’  “ecology  of  practices”,  which  the  article  presents  as  an  incentive  to  giving more weight to radical situatedness of epistemic practices.


Keywords: academic publishing; artistic research; ecology of practices; media sensitivity.


Mika Elo, ‘Encore‘, Journal for Artistic Research, 24 (2021)


The exposition presents two installations—Mitä uutta kivistä?/Anything new about stones? (2017) and LAB-O(U)RATORY (2019)—and enfolds them in a series of repetitive gestures that stage their methodical entanglement. Both of the installations explore and articulate the research potential of expanded writing. At stake is the ecology of attention in a setting that thematises the co-existence of different modes of articulation, interlinked spatial and temporal arrangements as well as their associative mechanisms. What happens when a spatial constellation is presented on a medially formatted time line? How to focus one’s attention in an associatively saturated literary space? Rather than attaching itself to an already existing theoretical framework or meta-discussions on artistic research, the exposition aims at explicating a singular artistic framework and its constellated structure.


keywords: installation, stone, expanded writing, constellations, attention, association


Mia Seppälä: Strategian sisäistäminen. RUUKKU – Studies in artistic research. Nr. 19.


Tämä ekspositio asetettaa yksittäisen taiteellisen teon laajempaan julkiseen keskusteluun yliopistopolitiikan rakenteellisen kehittämisen synnyttämien ajatuksien liepeiltä. Eksposition keskeinen elementti on videoperformanssi ”Internalizing The Strategy”, joka tapahtuu kaikille avoimessa julkisessa paikassa - Eduskuntatalon edessä. Strategia tulee vastaan mitä moninaisimmissa yhteyksissä. Tuntuu siltä, että kaikilla pitää olla oma strategiansa. Kunnat, yritykset, urheiluseurat, päiväkodit, korkeakoulut esittävät kilvan omia strategioitaan, mutta miten on strategian sisäistämisen laita? Yliopistojen strategioissa painotetaan maailman muutoksen mukanaan tuomiin vaatimuksiin reagoimista, johon yliopistoilla on korkeatasoista osaamista tuottavina instituutioina mahdollisuus ja suoranainen velvollisuus. Muutoksesta tuotetaan mielikuvia, jotka esitetään sekä pelottavina uhkakuvina, että mahdollisuuksia tarjoavina positiivisina kehityskulkuina. Asiantuntijakielen tarkoituksena on saada tietyt valinnat tuntumaan tarpeellisilta ja hyödyllisiltä. Tähän kieleen on upotettu tietty edistymisen vaatimus ja lupaus, jota on vaikea vastustaa.



Other research publications:


Mika Elo, "Flat Thoughts", Where do images come from?: detours around Ted Serios's "thoughtographic" photographs, edited by Marjaana Kella. Helsinki: Adacemy of Fine Arts, 2022.



Research exhibitions:


Paradoxes of photography, The Finnish Museum of Photography, April–August 2022.


Paradoxes of Photography invites viewers to reflect on the expectations and concepts related to photography. The exhibition is a selection of research-based projects that challenge the idea of “the photographic”.


Various photographic techniques, chemical, optical, electronic, digital, and computational, share the goal of simulating visual perception. An image endowed with a photographic look is easily thought of as evidence of a presence in front of a camera, even though it may result from computational processes. Paradoxically, if you see an image as a photograph, it is a photograph – for you. Seeing images as photographs through the lens of photography constitutes the exhibition's core.


Artists and researchers: Bruno Caldas, Outi Condit & Rosie Swayne, Stephen Cornford, Suzanne Mooney, Tuula Närhinen, Tuomo Rainio, Mia Seppälä, Jenni Niemelä-Nyrhinen & Niina Uusitalo, Jukka Häkkinen and working group.
The exhibition has been curated by Mika Elo.

The exhibition has been funded by The Olga and Vilho Linnamo Foundation, The Academy of Finland funded Post-digital Epistemologies of the Photographic Image (PEPI) project, and The Academy of Fine Arts, University of the Arts Helsinki.


Paradoxes of Photography attracted 9954 vistors.

Tuula Närhinen: BETWEEN THE EYES in Paradoxes of Photography, the Museum of Finnish Photography 2022

Between the Eyes - project challenges the premises of binocular vision. The stereoscopic installation invites the spectator to peep into slide viewers to explore different manifestations of spatial depth. The slide viewers include stereographs (= left-eye and right-eye views) that experiment with adjusting the convergence and the span of the two eyes.


Displayed through the DIY stereoscopes, altered experiences of space were created by varying the distance between the left and the right eye views.


How would it feel to look at the world through the eyes which, instead of the usual five centimeters, were only a few millimeters, 15 cm, or up to several meters apart from each other?

Project description:


Merimaiseman päivittäminen (näyttely ja työpaja, Mia Seppälä), Tutkimuspaviljonki #4, 2021. Mia Seppälä: Up­dat­ing the Seascape




Allmende, online exhibition 2021. Initiated by Research Focus in Transdisciplinarity Zurich University of the Arts.


Allmend of Research Films brings together a group of artists working with a common pool of video footage that they share and contribute to. There is no given topic or theme. It is an artistic experiment in sharing within the arts, an attempt to see the diversity that similar footage can lead to. Mika Elo's contrbution, screened also at Wind Tunnel Festival 29–30 April 2022 in Zurich, ZhDK.




Tuula Närhinen: Deep Time Deposits, Beaconsfield Gallery, London 2020.

The winner of Below Zero Finnish Art Price 2020, Tuula Närhinen was in residency at Beaconsfield Gallery in South London from mid-January until the end of February. Leading up to the Deep Time Deposits exhibition, Närhinen searched the Thames foreshore collecting bits and pieces of anthropogenic debris that have found a hiding spot in the Thames’ anaerobic river-mud. Närhinen understands the river as a time-machine; a dynamic historic agent and naturally occurring cultural archive of the city.

Project despription:

Tuula Närhinen: Grotesques in Annantalo Arts Centre, Helsinki, 2021

The Grotesques series sets out to transgress the nature-culture divide. The project draws from skiagraphy or the method of fixing the shadows as expressed through the myth of the origin of photography; the tale of the Maid of Corinth—who, upon the imminent departure of her lover, “drew in outline on the wall the shadow of his body thrown by a lamp” (Pliny the Elder: Natural History).

These skiagraphic experiments could be considered as new ways of seeing in the Barthesian sense of open holes, wounds or lesions. The random instances and contingencies puncture the categories of ration and unfurl aspects of surreal or unconscious present in the quotidian.

Project description:

Tuula Närhinen: Autografi di Roma - Autographic inscriptions of Rome 2023

The project considers the epistemic potential of material substrates and drawing equipment used for ‘automatic’ renderings, such as frottages (rubbings), imprints, and epigraphic squeezes (paper cast impressions from inscribed or uneven surfaces). A series of tactile collages, produced with local ingredients (for instance soil pigments, discarded objects, trash, and debris) constitute an archaeological atlas of site-specific aesthetic knowledge.



Blog texts:


Why do we trust pictures?

Ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence and copy­right: can there be orig­i­nal­ity in AI-generated works?

Tuula Närhinen – Kuvaa on katsominen

Outi Condit & Rosie Swayne – How to be a medium?

Tuomo Rainio – Rakennetun kuvan kokeminen

Mia Seppälä – Valokuvan monet olomuodot

Kari Yli-Annala: Valokuvia ajatuksista

Kari Yli-Annala: Kuvantamisen halu


Educational activities and research events:

Image research seminar 2019/2020

The guiding question of this interdisciplinary seminar targeted of MA and Doctoral students in the arts was: "how to read images today?". Themes addressed: drone aesthetics, non-photography, operative images, machine seeing. 10 participants. Led by Mika Elo, Tuula Närhinen and Tuomo Rainio at the Academy of Fine Arts Helsinki.

Image research seminar 2020/2021

The seminar addressed the interplay of image, perception, nature, and culture with specific focus on corporeality. A bit provocatively we started with the claim that all images are images of body. This implies that some kind of bodily horizon of expectations is encoded in the imaging technologies (such as photography) and pictorial conventions. But how can we analyse these framings? Themes addressed: 3D vision, visualisation, evolution of the eye, image athropology, operative images. 12 participants. Led by Mika Elo, Tuula Närhinen and Tuomo Rainio at the Academy of Fine Arts Helsinki.

Image research reading group 2021/2022

In this collegial reading group, we familiarize ourselves with process ontology and consider its implications with regard to image research. Our main reading material will be Isabelle Stengers: Thinking with Whitehead. The participants give introductions to the book chapters in turn. Led by Mika Elo and Tuula Närhinen.


Image research reading group 2022/2023

This year’s Image Research Reading Group will focus on Grammatology of Images. With help of Sigrid Weigel’s Grammatology of Images (2022) / Grammatologie der Bilder (2015) and additional materials that will be agreed on during the course, we will familiarize ourselves with theoretical issues related with imaging processes. The leading question is: through what kind of processes can that what is not an image be rendered into an image? Each session will consist of short introductions by the participants to the chapters we read and discussions around them. We will additionally have occasional guests. Led by Mika Elo.


Uniarts Helsinki Research Event
Study Day: Bernard Stiegler and the arts

Venue: Online
Convenors: Professor Mika Elo, Doctoral program, Academy of Fine Arts, Uniarts Helsinki and
Professor Otso Lähdeoja, Centre for Artistic Research (CfAR), Uniarts Helsinki

Bernard Stiegler (1952–2020) stands out as a prominent voice in contemporary philosophy. Throughout his long career, he has addressed many issues relevant to art and artistic research. This study day highlights his relation to the arts from multiple perspectives. The study day builds on Susanna Lindberg's visiting professorship at KuvA. Lindberg is professor of Continental Philosophy at Leiden University, and an internationally renowned expert of Bernard Stiegler's thought.

The event is open to all: Uniarts Helsinki doctoral and postdoctoral researchers, master's students, as well as to participants from other organizations.

9:00 Susanna Lindberg: Bernard Stiegler's Love of Music
10:30 Discussion/workshop, including invited comments by Jan Schacher
12:00 Lunch break
13:00 Luis Guerra: Gestural Philosophy, Bernard Stiegler's Postfoundational Aesthetics
14:00 Discussion and coffee
14:30 Otso Lähdeoja: Impulse lecture: Co-Imagination, on the Technological Mediation of Intersubjectivity
15:00 Closing panel/workshop with invited guests (Jan Schacher, Luis Guerra, Martta Heikkilä) [tba]
16:30 Ending words


Academy of Fine Arts Helsinki Research Event
EARN Gathering: Making Artistic Research Public

(Key-note lecture by Bassam el Baroni "Tarrying with the Alien: On Curating and Algorithmic Realism” co-organised with PEPI)


PEPI Study day: Minor art / Vähätaide

with Kari Yli-Annala

22 November 2022

Venue: Academy of Fine Arts, Lindqvist lobby




Public events for general audience


Infrastructures of visuality

The Finnish Museum of Photography

Kaapelitehdas, Kaapeliaukio 3, G-rappu, Helsinki
10 June 2022, 16–18

In the contemporary media society an implicit idea of 'the photographic' seems still to guide us: Visuals endowed with a photographic look are experienced and dealt with as if they would testify of a presence in front of a camera even though they may be result of computational processes. Paradoxically, if you see an image as a photograph, it is a photograph – for you. How do photographic technologies contribute to formatting our visual experience? This informal public discussion with the artists Suzanne Mooney, Stephen Cornford and Bruno Caldas is moderated by the curator of the Paradoxes of Photography exhibition Mika Elo. Other invited guests include Janne Seppänen, Jukka Häkkinen, Patricia Prieto-Blanco and Bence Nanay.












Postdigital Epistemologies of the Photographic Image (PEPI)

Research consortium funded by the Academy of Finland (2019–2022). Decision number 320265.


The truthfulness of the photograph has long been one of the most debated issues in the photography. In current media society, it is still a question which raises heated debates in the field of photo journalism, for example. PEPI consortium examines the epistemologies of the photographic image from three closely related perspectives:


First, we will scrutinise the psychological processes by which people make judgements regarding the truthfulness of photographs. Second, we will concentrate on ‘fake news’ visuals and their reception. Third, we will address the question of the veracity of the photographic image in light of photographic aesthetics. Our multidisciplinary consortium combines journalism/media studies, experimental psychology and artistic research.

























PEPI kick off seminar 25 October 2019, at the Finnish Museum of Photography



PEPI on UNIARTS Helsinki web pages: link

PEPI kick-off seminar programme

Mia Seppälä: Updating the Seascape

Paradoxes of Photography - a slideshow of the exhibition

Tuula Närhinen: Deep Time Deposits (2020)

Tuula Närhinen: Between the Eyes (2022)

Tuula Närhinen: Grotesques (2018)

Tuula Närhinen: Autografi di Roma (2022)

Exhibition texts (Finnish, Swedish, English)

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