Mika Elo

Professor, KuvA/Doctoral Programme


Current research (2016–2017):

Mediality of artistic research

The research engages in contemporary discussions concerning artistic research, its medium and the epistemic potential of the arts. Insofar all media articulate sense by gathering together the different senses of ‘sense’, the question concerns, more generally, “mediality of sense”. The research is contextualized with regard to three more specific contexts:
1) Photography and the ”post medium condition”
2) Theories of touch and haptic media
3) Artistic research and ”architectonics of sense”

Job description
Professor of artistic research, Head of Doctoral Programme, Vice-dean of Research

Current teaching:

Philosophy of artistic research (2016/2017): Aesthetic Thinking

The theme of the seminar on the philosophy of artistic research is, in the academic year 2016–2017, Aesthetic Thinking. The seminar makes up an independent whole, yet it continues to develop the topics of the 2015–2016 seminar Architectonics of Sense.

The goal of the seminar Architectonics of Sense was to map the central philosophical challenges of artistic research and to relate them to a broader cultural-theoretical context. The pedagogic starting point was the idea of artistic research as a “syndrome” reflecting strongly the current cultural changes that affect the forms of knowledge and its modes of production.

The seminar Aesthetic Thinking connects these previous discussions with the perspective of the critique of knowledge. The main problem concerns the relation of artistic research to aesthetics both in its classical form and in the form of media aesthetics. The seminar will focus especially on artistic research in relation to a field of problems delimited by the interplay of the discursive and the sensible element, of truth and beauty, of knowledge and thinking.

Aesthetic thinking refers here to modes of thinking which are not only conceptual and discursive, but determined by an aesthetic element: the dimensions of perception and the body, as well as a particular medium of artistic technique. Thinking is, then, not primarily a way of producing knowledge, but various modes of articulation in which the addressed issue remains, even as something thought, still something sensible (we feel its claim), so that its sense remains, even as expressed, something to be experienced (it touches us).

In order to creatively develop the idea of artistic research in the tensional field between art and research, we must free the concept of thinking from its one-sided interpretation as a servant of knowledge. In its aesthetic dynamics, thinking is connected to the power of judgement, to the capacity of critical distinctions and of being exposed. These have been the major topics of classical aesthetics which, however, must be re-situated with respect to the material, technical and bodily media defining our contemporary culture.

The problems of aesthetic thinking pertain, then, to the ways artistic research is related to the movement of thinking, its way of weighing things, and to the advance of research taking place by artistic events, acts or gestures. The addressed issues challenging us remain partly unknown and must be therefore approached by careful probing before we can try to master them in the form of knowledge. At the same time, the addressed issues must be elaborated as a questions which, as questions still emerging, take their own form first in the process in which we respond to them, instead of being originally merely problems to be solved.

To the extent that thinking is in itself aesthetic, it does not only lead to conceptual knowledge, but to various ways of communicating experience which is articulated performatively. The validity of “results” cannot, then, be wholly dissociated from the singular quality of each artistic act or gesture. What is at issue, in the context of research, is more pertinence and sensibility than the power of explaining and giving reasons.


A Peer-reviewed articles

2017 "Kaksi peiliä: Jacques Lacanin optinen skeema ja havainnollistamisen haaste". Psykoanalyyttinen psykoterapia 13. 20–27.

2014 "What Calls for Thinking". RUUKKU – Studies in Artistic Research. Nr 2. http://ruukku-journal.fi/fi/issues/2

2014 "Notes on media sensitivity in artistic research". Exposition of Artistic Research: Publishing Art in Academia. Eds. Michael Schwab and Henk Borgdorff. Leiden University Press. 25–38.

2013 "The New Technological Environment of Photography and Shifting Conditions of Embodiment". On the Verge of Photography; Imaging Beyond Representation. Eds. Andrew Fisher, Johnny Golding and Daniel Rubinstein. Birmingham: Article Press. 87–102.

2012 "Formatting the senses of touch". Transformations (Issue 22).


2012 "Digital finger: beyond phenomenological figures of touch". Journal of Aesthetics and Culture vol. 4. DOI: 10.3402/jac.v4i0.14982

2012 "Negotiating epistemic interests and aesthetic stakes". Näyttämö ja tutkimus vol. 4. Teatteritutkimuksen seura, Helsinki. 55–67.

2011 "Valokuvaruumis. Valokuva, kasvot ja ruumiillinen skematismi" [Photographic body. Photograph, face and bodily schematicism]. Lähikuva vol. 24. 58–71.

2011 "Onko näppituntumalla enää väliä?" [Does the rule of thumb still hold?]. tiede & edistys vol. 36. 81–96.

2011 "Valoisa labyrintti – Roland Barthes ja valokuvan tuntu" [Labyrinth of light – Roland Barthes and the touch of photography]. Psykoterapia vol. 30, 2/2011. 43–51.

2009 "Passages of Articulation: Art and Research Touching". Reflections and Connections. 
On the relationship between creative production and academic research. Eds. Nithikul Nimkulrat and Tim O’Riley. University of Art and Design Helsinki. 19–28.

2008 "Walter Benjaminin mediaestetiikan erannoista: luovien politiikkaan" [Walter Benjamin on differentials of media aesthetics: tracking politics]. In medias res. Hakuja mediafilosofiaan. Eds. Olli-Jukka Jokisaari, Jussi Parikka and Pasi Väliaho. Turku: Eetos. 208–239.

2007 "Walter Benjamin on Photography: Towards Elemental Politics". Transformations (Issue 15). http://www.transformationsjournal.org/journal/issue_15/article_01.shtml

2006 "Liikkeitä katseen elementissä" [Movements in the Element of Vision]. Tiede & Edistys vol. 31.

2005 "Aura und Spur in der Fotografie". Zeitschrift für kritische Theorie 20/21. 42–51.

2004 "Valokuvan historiallinen indeksi" [The Historical Index of Photography]. tiede & edistys vol. 29. 2/04. 124–140.

B Non-refereed articles

2014 "Theses, Notes and Images: On the Photographic Conditions of Embodiment". Senses of Embodiment. Art, Technics Media. Eds. Mika Elo and Miika Luoto. Bern: Peter Lang. 131–149.

2014 "Coctail-navigaattori" [Cocktail Navigator]. Kosketuksen figuureja [Figures of Touch]. Ed. Mika Elo. Helsinki: Tutkijaliitto. 7–23.

2014 "Digitaalinen näppituntuma" [Digital Touch]. Kosketuksen figuureja [Figures of Touch]. Ed. Mika Elo. Helsinki: Tutkijaliitto. 128–154.

2013 "(Dis)sychronies of vision and touch". Embodied Phantasies II. Eds. Sabine Falch and Suzanne Anker. Bern and New York: Peter Lang. 53–62.

2007 "Valokuvan kieli käännöstehtävänä / The Language of Photography as a Translation Task".
 In Mika Elo (ed.) Toisaalta tässä / Here Then. Photographs as Work of Art and as Research. Helsinki: University of Art and Design Helsinki and The Finnish Academy of Fine Arts. 134–187.

2007 "Ajatteleva tutkimus / Thinking Research". Toisaalta tässä /Here Then. The Photograph as Work of Art and as Research. Ed. Mika Elo. Helsinki: University of Art and Design Helsinki and The Finnish Academy of Fine Arts. 9–29.

2005 "Die Wiederkehr der Aura". Walter Benjamins Medientheorie. Ed. Christian Schulte. Konstanz: Univestitätsverlag Konstanz. 117–135.

C  Scientific books

2015 Photographic Powers. Eds. Mika Elo, Marko Karo and Marc Goodwin. Helsinki: Aalto ARTS Books. 335 pages.

2014 Senses of Embodiment. Art, Technics Media. Eds. Mika Elo and Miika Luoto. Bern: Peter Lang. 183 pages.

2014 Kosketuksen figuureja [Figures of Touch]. Ed. Mika Elo. Helsinki: Tutkijaliitto. 264 pages.

2007 Toisaalta tässä /Here Then. Photorographs as Work of Art and as Research. Ed. Mika Elo. Helsinki: University of Art and Design Helsinki and The Finnish Academy of Fine Arts. 192 pages.

2005 Valokuvan medium. Helsinki: Tutkijaliitto & Taideteollinen korkeakoulu [dissertation]. 293 pages.

D Publications intended for professional communities

2017  "Taiteentutkimuksesta taidetutkimukseen", Tahiti 1/2017.

2014 "Harjoitus irtiottona" / "Practice as Breakaway". IssueX 3/2014.

2013 "Kosketuksen taide" [The art of touching]. IssueX 2/2013.

2006 "Zur Aktualität des Passagen-Weks. Der Gedanke des historischen Index in ihrer Rückspiegelung auf das Passagen-Werk".Urgeschichte des 20. Jahrhunderts. An Walter Benjamins Passagen-Projekt weiter schreiben. Ein Bremer Symposion. Eds. Peter Rautmann and Nicolas Schaltz. Einwurf 04, Hochschule der Künste Bremen.

2001 "Median metaforisuudesta" [On Metaphoricity of the Media]. Työpapereita F 18 [Working Papers]. Helsinki: University of Art and Design Helsinki.

2000 "Place of Image: Reproduction, Aura and Photographic Light". Working Papers F 12. Helsinki: University of Art and Design Helsinki.

1998 "Valokuvan ekstaasi" [The Ecstasy of Photography]. Työpapereita F 4 [Working Papers]. Helsinki: University of Art and Design Helsinki.

E Publications intended for the general public

2016 "Taide tuottaa muutosvoimaa". Kauppalehti, Johtavaa puhetta blogi 4.11.2016.

2014 "Distance and Beholding – On the Visuality of Theatre". TINFO News – Performance design.

2013 Falling Trees. The Finnish ehibitions at the 55th International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia. Co-authored by Mika Elo, Marko Karo and Harri Laakso. Helsinki: Frame Foundation. 82 pages.

2010 "Extending, Transferring, Responging". Secret Identities of a Psychoanalyst. Viewpoints on the works of Friedl Kubelka (Friedl von Gröller). Ed. Elina Saloranta.  Finnish Academy of Fine Arts. 59–64.

2007 "Walter Benjamin: kieli ei ole pelkkiä merkkejä" [Language is not merely a sign system]. Taide 1/07. 31–33.

2007 Square Minutes – Young Finnish Photography. Eds. Mika Elo and Harri Laakso. University of Art and Design Helsinki.

2007 "Diastole, dialogi, katalogi / Diastole, Dialogue, Catalogue". Square Minutes – Young Finnish Photography. Eds. Mika Elo and Harri Laakso. University of Art and Design Helsinki. 52–55.

2006 "Maiseman rajoilla, maisemia rajoilla" [At the limits of langscape]. Nuori Voima 6/06.

2005 "Aufnehmen, Erinnern, Sammeln". Souvenirs Mika Elo and Kuyngwoo Chun, SigonArt, Seoul, South Korea.

2005  "Toiston taide / The Art of Repetition". To be contonued... / Jatkuu... Helsinki Photography Festival 2005. Eds. Mika 
Elo and Brett Rogers. Valokuvataiteilijoiden liitto & British Council, Helsinki and London.

2004 "Esinemaailman allegorisia figuureja: asetelma, asento, ele" [Allegorical Figures of the World of Things: Still life, Posture, Gesture]. Esineiden maailma. Ed. Riikka Stewen. Helsinki: Suomen Taideyhdistys.

2002 "Läsnäoloa virrassa" [The Flowing Presence], Nuori Voima 1/02.

2000 "Maailmassa olemisen tekniikka" [The Techniques of the Being-in-the-World] Nuori Voima 4-5/00.

1999 "Valokuvan mykkyys" [The Silent Photograph] Nuori Voima 2/99.

1998 "Reaaliaika ja ajan reaalisuus" [Real Time and the Time of the Real, a Text-Image Intervention]. 
Muumedia-festival catalogue, MUU ry, Helsinki. [Media Art Exhibition Cataloque].

1997 "Leonardon lapsuudenmuisto" [Leonardo’s Childhood Memory] Taiteen Maailma 2/97.

1996 "Kuva ja maailmankuva – pohdintioja Panofskyn perspektiiviesseen tiimoilta" [Image and World Picture – 
Reflections on Panofsky’s Perspective Essay]. (Valo)kuva 4/96.

F Public artistic activities

Curatorial work:

2013 Falling Trees. The Finnish ehibitions at the 55th International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia, Venice Italy.

2007 Square Minutes – Young Finnish Photography, Lodz and Leipzig, Poland and Germany.

2004-5 Helsinki Photography Festival, Helsinki, Finland.

1999 Historama 2000, Ruhrlandsmuseum, Essen, Germany [curatorial consultation].

1993 Helsinki Photography Festival [assisting curator].


2010 Tangents, Forum Box, Helsinki, Finland.

2007 Voice-over supplement to Friedl Kubelka's film Max Turnheim, Kiasma Museum for Contemporary Art, Helsinki, Finland.

Solo exhibitions:

2014 What thinking calls?, Gallery Huuto Jätkäsaari, Helsinki.

Group exhibitions:

2017 Varasto, Galleria Lapinlahti, Helsinki, Finland.

2016 Kuvataideakatemian näyttely, Exlab, Helsinki, Finland.

2011 Otteita / Extracts, Galleria Rantakasarmi, Helsinki, Finland.

2008 Figurations of Knowledge, Villa Elisabeth, Berlin, Germany.

2007 Toisaalta tässä / Here Then, TR1 Tampere, Finland.

2007 Elo – Chagas – Mühlenstedt, Atelierhaus Roter Hahn, Bremen, Germany.

2003 Hospitalities, Voipaala Art Centre, Voipaala, Finland

2002 Künstlerhaus Bremen 10 Years, Bremen, Germany.

1997 Sketches for Arabia shore, Helsinki City Planning Office, Helsinki, Finland.

1996 Synthesis—Young Finnish Photography, Museum for Photographic Art, Helsinki, Finland.

1995 LUMO 95 -Photographic Art Festival, Gallery Becker, Jyväskylä, Finland.

1995 Saarenmaa, Savoy Theatre, Helsinki, Finland.

1994 Still-life, Gallery Vita Havet, Stockholm, Sweden.

G Theses

2005 Valokuvan medium [The medium of photography]. Helsinki: Tutkijaliitto & Taideteollinen korkeakoulu [dissertation, monography].

1998 Valokuvan ekstaasi [The photographic ecstacy]. Taideteollinen korkeakoulu [MA thesis].



photography theory
media aesthetics
artistic research
visual culture