Mika Elo

  • Professori, K/Tohtorikoulutus ja tutkimus, Kuvataideakatemia
  • +358503473969


Taiteellisen tutkimuksen professori, Tohtorinkoulutusohjelman johtaja, Tutkimuksen varadekaani


Mika Elo is professor of artistic research at the University of the Arts Helsinki. His research interests include theory of photographic media, philosophical media theory, and epistemology of artistic research. He is participating in discussions in these areas in the capacity of curator, visual artist and researcher.

In 2018–2019 he was leading the Research Pavilion #3 project realised in Helsinki and in Venice in the context of 58th Venice Biennale. In 2009–2011 he worked in the research project (figuresoftouch.com). In 2012-2013 he co-curated the Finnish exhibition Falling Trees at the Biennale Arte 2013 in Venice. Currently he is the PI of one of the research projects in the consortium Post-digital Epistemologies of the Photographic Image. He has also been a member of the editorial boards of RUUKKU (2012– ) tiede&edistys (2010– ) and JAR (2010–2019) over many years.


Ajankohtainen opetus:

Image research seminar (2019/2020)

This seminar focuses on questions of psychology of vision beyond the human sense of sight. We go trough a series of key texts and research examples dealing with machine learning, metacognition, and psychology of vision. The leading question of the seminar is ”how to read images today?”. The seminar gives basic knowledge of machine learning, metacoginition, and contemporary image research. Co-teaching with Tuomo Rainio. The seminar is linked with the research project Post-digital Epistemologies of the Photographic Image.

Contexts  and concepts of Artistic Research (2019/2020)

In this course we read and discuss a series of key texts concerning artistic research. Each participant writes a summary on one text for each session and presents it shortly to the others. The rest of the session is dedicated to one text that will be discussed in the group. Co-teaching with Annette Arlander.

Sense (2019/2020)

The phenomenon of “artistic research” can be considered as a symptom of a manifold cultural shift. The shift at issue has often been approached in terms of various “turns”: in analogy to the “linguistic” or “cultural turn”, we find the ideas of “practical”, “medial”, “bodily”, “performative” and “non-human turn”. These new research paradigms point to the following experiences: the significance of traditional “cultural techniques” is lost or has changed, the idea of “culture as a text” (as a web of symbolically organized meanings) has become problematic and, finally, the human centered world views have encountered critical limits.           

The cultural shift at issue pertains in a particularly strong way to the sensible articulation of sense, its technical-bodily constitution. Therefore, questions highly relevant to art and research come to the fore: What happens now to “art”, the work of which has always been situated at the intersection of all the senses of sense: meaning, feeling, perception, estimation, etc. ? What kind of new possibilities of artistic practice may be found, when the basic relations between experience and knowledge, technics and reality, the human being and nature are changing? In this situation, ”sense” as a thematic issue refers to the question of the place of art and research in a changing culture and to the role of the artist in it.           

In order to situate their own work with respect to the challenges of our time, artist-researchers must conceive of the ways in which the aforementioned cultural shift affects the sensible and material as well as technical and institutional contexts of artistic research. In order to develop the possibilities of artistic research in a critical and creative way, we must consider the ongoing changes pertaining to the relations between “art” and “research”, “experience” and “knowledge”, “creativity” and “methods”. We must take into account for instance the basic changes challenging our conceptuality (sensible/ideal, mind/body, human/non-human etc.), the organization of knowledge (archives, taxonomies) and the dimensions of bodily existence (time, space, place). At the same time we must consider how these changes redefine the social situation of the artist in techno-scientific capitalism.

The course consists of two parts:

1) Preparation period: Participants familiarise themselves with the course material in advance and write one essay (2 credits) based on the materials and/or prepare one presentation (1 credit) either alone or with a colleague.

2) A two-day seminar (April 2020) the consists of lectures, seminar discussions and participants’ presentations (1 credit). Due to the coronavirus epidemiy this part will be realised online.

Tutkimus ja julkaisut

List of publications

Mika Elo

A Peer-reviewed research articles

2018a ”Some works and their afterlife”. RUUKKU – Studies in Artistic Research, Issue 9. https://www.researchcatalogue.net/view/229280/229522

2017a Annette Arlander & Mika Elo: ”Ekologinen Näkökulma taidetutkimukseen”, Tiede&edistys 4/2017. 335–346.

2017b ”Artistic Research Syndrome”. Artnodes. No. 20. 28–32. http://dx.doi.org/10.7238/a.v0i20.3053

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

2014a ”What Calls for Thinking”. RUUKKU – Studies in Artistic Research. Nr 2.

2012a ”Formatting the senses of touch”. Transformations (Issue 22). http://www.transformationsjournal.org/journal/issue_22/article_07.shtml

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

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

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

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

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

2009a ”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.

2008a ”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.

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

2006a ”Liikkeitä katseen elementissä” [Movements in the Element of Vision]. Tiede & Edistys vol. 31. 155–162.

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

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

B Non-refereed research articles

2019a ”Photographic Apparatus in the Era of Tagshot Culture”. Routledge Companion to Photography Theory. Eds. Jane Tormey and Mark Durden. New York and London: Routledge. [forthcoming in 2019]

2019b ”Paradoxes of Artistic Research” / ”Paradojas de la investigación artística”. Piscina. Investigación y práctica  artística. Maneras y ejercicios / Swimming Pool. Artistic practice-based research. Eds. Rita Sixto and Usoa Fullaondo. Bilbao: Ediciones laSIA. 59–74 / 179–194.

2018b ”Ineffable Dispositions”. Transpositions – Aesthetico-Epistemic Operators in Artistic Research. Ed. Michael Schwab. Leuven: Leuven University Press.

2018c ”Stuff framed: removal boxes, vitrines and a lot of words”. Architectures of Embodiment. Unfolding Fields of Intelligibility. Ed. Alex Arteaga. Berlin and Zurich: Diaphanes. [forthcoming] ISBN 978-3-0358-0199-6.

2018d ”Light Touches: A Media Aesthetic Mapping of Touch”. Figures of Touch, Sense, Body, Technics. Ed. Mika Elo and Miika Luoto. Helsinki: Academy of Fine Arts Helsinki. http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-952-7131-46-6

2016a ”The New Technological Environment of Photography and Shifting Conditions of Embodiment”. Photomediations: A Reader. Edited by Kamila Kuc and Joanna Zylinska in association with Jonathan Shaw,Ross Varney and Michael Wamposzyc. London: Open Humanities Press. 268–282. [re-publication]

2014b ”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.

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

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

2014e ”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.

2013a ”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.

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

2007b ”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.

2007c ”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.

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

C Edited research publications

2019c Etappeja – Kuvataideakatemina tohtoriohjelma 20 vuotta / Waypoints – The Doctoral Programme at the Academy of Fine Arts 20 Years. Eds. Mika Elo, Lea Kantonen and Petri Kaverma. Helsinki: Academy of Fine Arts Helsinki. 225 pages. [includes peer-reviewed articles]

2018e Figures of Touch. Sense, Technics, Body. Eds. Mika Elo and Miika Luoto. Helsinki: Academy of Fine Arts Helsinki. 312 pages.  http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-952-7131-46-6

2015a Photographic Powers – Helsinki Photomedia 2014. Ed. Mika Elo and Marko Karo in  association with Marc Goodwin. Helsinki: Aalto ARTS Books. 335 pages.

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

2014g Kosketuksen figuureja. Ed. Mika Elo. Helsinki: Tutkijaliitto. 264 pages.

2007d 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.

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

D Publications intended for professional communities

2019d ”Fluid dynamics with Walter Benjamin”. Windtunnel Bulletin 10. Eds. Florian Dombois et al. Zurich: ZHdK.

2017d ”Taiteentutkimuksesta taidetutkimukseen”, Tahiti 1/2017.

2014h ”Harjoitus irtiottona” / ”Practice as Breakaway”. IssueX 3/2014.

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

2006b ”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.

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

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

1998a ”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

2016b ”Taide tuottaa muutosvoimaa”. Kauppalehti, Johtavaa puhetta blogi 4.11.2016.

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

2013d 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.

2010a ”Extending, Transferring, Responding”. 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.

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

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

2007g ”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.

2006c ”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.

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

2004b ”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.

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

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

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

1998b ”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].

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

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

F Public artistic and design activities

Curatorial work:

2018–19 Research Pavilion #3, in the context of 58th Biennale in Venice.

2013 Falling Trees. The Finnish exhibitions 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].

Performances, interventions:

2018 Commissioned writing for Satu Tuomisto’s dance production Kuusnolla, Stoa, Helsinki.

2018 Visual intervention and Sound Observer (text), and performance in Otso Lähdeoja’s research concert, Music House (Black Box), Helsinki.

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:

2017 Kivet ja me / Stones and us, Galleria Lapinlahti, Helsinki, Finland.

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

Group exhibitions:

2018 Art and computation, Exhibition laboratory, Helsinki, Finland.

2017 Varasto, Galleria Lapinlahti, Helsinki, Finland.

2016 Academy of Fine Arts Group Show, Exhibition laboratory, 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.

Graphic design:

1995-2005 Helsinki Photography Festival

1995-2005 Nuori Voima -literature magazine 

1993-1997 Midnight Sun Film Festival

1992-2007 art catalogues (among others for Boltanski, Struth, Kozyra and Kapoor)

1992-2007 books and book covers, posters, etc.

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].


  • taiteellinen tutkimus
  • valokuvaus
  • mediaestetiikka
  • visuaalinen kulttuuri