Erkki Huhtamo - Current Creative Research

Oct 11th, 2005

The faculty of Design | Media Arts represent the diversity of interests along with the interdisciplinary tendencies and innovative hybridity that the department promotes and nurtures in their students. The Fall seminar will focus on their most current creative research that is either at the beginning conceptual phase or in the midst of production. This gives the audience a rare glimpse into the creative process at an early stage along with all the considerations and issues that have to be addressed in order to produce a successful project.

Professor Erkki Huhtamo's recent work has dealt with media archaeology, an approach he has contributed to developing during a number of years. Media archaeology excavates forgotten, neglected or suppressed media-cultural phenomena, providing us a powerful "tool" for assessing the phenomena underlying media history and contributing to its unfolding. He pays particular attention to the "life" of topoi, or cliched, commonplace elements that provide "moulds" for experience. What is "new" in media culture can,
paradoxically, best discovered by excuvating what is - seemingly - cliched and obsolete. Professor Huhtamo has applied this approach to phenomena like "peep media", the notion of the "screen" and mobile media. Recently he gave an invited lecture at REFRESH! The First International Conference on Media Art Histories, Science and Technology (Banff, Canada), focusing on ways media artists have applied media-archaeological approaches. Professor Huhtamo is currently working on two books, one on the moving panorama as a forgotten mass medium of the 19th century and the other on the "archaeology of interactivity."

Speaker Biography


Huhtamo is a media archaeologist, writer and exhibition curator. At D|MA his area is media history and theory. Professor Huhtamo holds a Ph. D. in Cultural History. He has written extensively on media archaeology and the media arts. Media archaeology is an emerging critical approach Professor Huhtamo has pioneered (together with a few other scholars) since the early 1990's. It excavates forgotten, neglected and suppressed media-cultural phenomena, helping us to penetrate beyond canonized accounts about media culture. Huhtamo pays particular attention to the "life" of topoi, or clich├ęd elements that emerge over and over again in media history and provide "molds" for experiences. What may seem new often proves to be just new packaging of ideas repeated during hundreds and even thousands of years. In recent years, Professor Huhtamo has applied this approach to phenomena like peep media, the notion of the screen, games and mobile media. He has also written about the ways in which media artists like Paul deMarinis, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer and Bernie Lubell have integrated media-archaeological elements into their work. Professor Huhtamo has just finished a book on the history of the moving panorama and the diorama, tentatively titled Illusions in Motion (California University Press, forthcoming 2009). With Dr. Jussi Parikka (Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK) he is preparing a collection of writings on media archaeology, also for California University Press (forthcoming 2009).

As a curator Professor Huhtamo has created many media art exhibitions, for example the major project Alien Intelligence (KIASMA Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki, 2000). He has served in many art exhibition and festival juries worldwide, including Siggraph, Ars Electronica and the Interactive Media Festival. He has lectured very widely in Europe, the US, Japan, and elsewhere. He has also written and directed television programs about media culture, for example the series Archaeology of the Moving Image (YLE, The Finnish Broadcasting Corporation, 1995-96). In 2005-06 Professor Huhtamo created with the acclaimed media artists Golan Levin and Zachary Lieberman (Tmema) a multi-media performance titled Musings on Hands. It was performed in Tokyo at Waseda University's Ono Memorial Hall and the Ars Electronica 2006 festival in Linz, Austria. Professor Huhtamo also gives magic lanterns shows with an authentic late 19th century biunial magic lantern and original hand-painted slides. He has an extensive collection of antique optical viewing devices, such as magic lanterns, peep show boxes, camera obscuras, praxinoscopes, kinoras, etc., which he often demonstrates to the students.

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Categories: theory

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